On March 17, 1970, both students and members of the larger community came together to initiate the U-M chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Soon after, the Regents of U-M invited a leader and the eventual founder of the office, Jim Toy, to speak about what the GLF hoped to achieve. During his second meeting, Jim responded, “We want justice!”
After increased pressure from both the GLF and U-M students, the university established a one-room office in September of 1971. Jim Toy and Cindy Gair, a leader of the Radical Lesbians, were hired as Human Sexuality Advocates. This achievement was monumental, in that it was the first staffed office for queer students in an institution of higher learning in the United States.
By 1972, the office had made one class presentation. Today, we provide eighty or more workshops to classes and seminars each year.
The 1980’s brought on increased outreach and services for bisexual people and people of color in support of their concerns. During this time, the Office of Human Sexuality became the U-M Lesbian Gay Male Programs Office.
As the AIDS epidemic swept the nation, Spectrum partnered with the Detroit HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC) to start a support group for students with AIDS. HARC changed its name to Unified in 2015.
Jim and Cindy fought to amend the bylaws of the university to protect sexual orientation from discrimination in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. This campaign was continued by Jim Toy for 21 years and, in 1993, the Regents voted 8 to 1 in favor of adding sexual orientation to the university’s bylaws.
In 1994, Jim Toy stepped down and Ronnie Sanlo was hired as Interim Director. As Sanlo’s vision for the office was being developed, bisexuality was added to the title to acknowledge inclusion of more sexual minorities at the university, thus becoming the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual Programs Office.
The office expanded the speakers bureau to include allies, founded Lavender Graduation (a separate ceremony to celebrate the graduation of LGBTQ+ students), and expanded the title of the office to include transgender, becoming the U-M Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Affairs.
The Ally Training Program was developed in 2005 to educate people on how to be better allies in the LGBTQ+ community. Since that time, the office has collaborated with University Housing to develop a gender-neutral housing policy. It also supports efforts by students for increased inclusion of gender-identity and an amendment to include gender identity and gender expression in the university bylaws.
In 2011, the Center hosted a year-long celebration of forty years of LGBT activism, collaborating with partners from across the university to put on a multidimensional program that included a monthly film series with featured directors, musical performances, and keynote speakers and entertainers. In conjunction with the anniversary U-M hosted the 2011 Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC), the largest student-led LGBT conference in the nation.