Lambda, 1977: Tea Dance and Carolina Gay Association
The end of page 2 in the newspaper Lambda, the volume of January 1977:
The first half of page 3 in the newspaper Lambda, the volume of January 1977:
The GCA (Carolina Gay Association) was a student organization established at and recognized by University of North Carolina with controversial in 1974. The CGA aimed at supporting the gay community and began publishing their newspaper Lambda, the first LGBTQ student publication in the nation in 1976. In the volume of January 1977, Lambda displayed an exciting announcement that Blueberry Hill, a bar in Durham, joined the CGA’s weekly Tea Dance. The bar would sponsor the association with the venue for this activity and donate all the profits from this event to the gay rights movement. In the second picture, the schedule for their Tea Dance at Blueberry Hill, which turned out to be the first gay bar in Durham and Chapel Hill area, showed that the Tea Dance was actually a party with unlimited drinks at the bar.
The fact that they used Tea Dance to name this activity instead of Drinks or Beer Dance caught my attention. This word choice of Tea may have some connection with CGA’s purpose of fighting for gay rights. The CGA, as the first national gay organization in America, regarded its task to speak for the gay community as elegant and significant. Compared to drinks and alcohol that may stand for indulgence, tea is usually considered as elegance. The way they named their activity might represent their attitude towards their duty to fight for equality. Furthermore, naming the activity Tea Dance might be a fightback against stigma about the gay community. People in 1970s were not as open to homosexuality as people today and were likely to connect the gay group with drugs addicts, criminals and so forth. Under the social stigma during that period, the name Beer Dance or Bar Dance may increase the existing stigma adversely. By giving the activity the name Tea Dance, the CGA showed its effort on attempting to eliminate the social stereotype of the homosexual group.