The History of the “Breaking the Ice Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival” at ODU

by Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant

Our Own, January 1995, page 8:

The Breaking the Ice Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival was first held February 2, 1991 in ODU Webb Center.  It was sponsored by the ODU Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) and the Hampton Roads Lesbian and Gay Pride Coalition (HRLGPC).  The event was envisioned as a winter pride event to supplement the annual Out in the Park pride picnic held each summer.  It was also a fundraiser with proceeds going toward Breaking the Ice expenses and toward the summer picnic.   The main event took place from 9:30am to 5pm and was followed by the play “I’m Positive” at 8pm and a dance in Webb Center from 10pm to 1am.  Daytime events included a showcase of vendors and organizations, as well as workshops “on healthy gay and lesbian relationships, being single, addiction, political activism, coming out, minorities, and the dilemma of gay men and lesbians in the military.”  Guest speakers that year included Robert Bray of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) who led a workshop on “The State of the Gay and Lesbian Nation: 1991” and Kate Dyer, an aide to U.S. Representative Gerry Studds (D-MA) who led a workshop on gays in the military.  Tickets to the main event were $5 in advance and $7 at the door.  Attendance to the evening play and the dance were free. 

The format stayed fairly consistent in subsequent years, though there were some changes.  The daytime hours shortened to 11am to 5pm the following year and by 1997 the main event ran from 12noon to 5pm.  Admission costs were lowered to $3 general admission and $1 for students, and only went up by $1 by the late 1990s.   Early evening events varied year to year.  Some years featured plays, most years an evening film festival, and a few years featured other entertainment.  1997 featured one act plays by ODU students, followed by country dancing performed by the OtherSiders country dance troupe, and music by local singer and songwriter Julie Clark.  1998 featured Lesbian comedian and musician Lynn Lavner and music by the Hampton Roads Men’s Chorus.  The late evening dance in Webb Center remained a fixture each year.   In 1997, there was an “All Faiths” continental breakfast held in Webb Center before the day’s other activities.

Breaking the Ice 1995 Workshop Schedule from the ODU Gay and Lesbian Student Records, Box 2, Folder 1:

A number of prominent guest speakers were featured over the years.   Guest speakers often represented current events related to the LGBT community.  The 1992 guest speaker was Karen Thompson who had recently been awarded guardianship of her lover Sharon Kowalski in the Minnesota Appeals Court.  Kowalski had been “severely disabled” in a car accident in 1983. Guardianship had initially been awarded to Kowalski’s parents who barred Thompson from visiting.  After nine years of court battles, Thompson finally won custody in December 1991.  The 1993 guest speaker was Crae Pridgen — a gay man who had been beaten outside a gay bar in Wilmington, North Carolina by three Marines in January 1993.  This happened only a week before his appearance at the 1993 Breaking the Ice.  In 1995, Rev. Mel White of the Metropolitan Community Church was guest speaker. White had been an Evangelical writer who ghostwrote autobiographies for televangelists such as Jerry Falwell, Sr., Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham.  White came out as gay in 1994, transferred his credentials to the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church, and devoted himself to serving gay Christians.  The week following the 1995 Breaking the Ice, White led a peaceful protest on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach.  White had requested a meeting with Pat Robertson to discuss how the televangelist’s anti-gay rhetoric was harming gay people “in the name of God.”  Robertson refused the meeting and White was arrested for trespassing.  White refused bond and fasted three weeks in the Virginia Beach City Jail until Robertson finally agreed to meet with him on March 8.  At that time, Robertson dropped the charges against White.  Guests speakers for other years included Mandy Carter of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRCF); Barbara Grier, CEO and Founder of Naid Press; Kerry Lobel of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce (NGLTF); David Perry of Virginians For Justice, and Lesbian comedian/singer Lynn Lavner. 

A variety of workshops were held at Breaking the Ice with some themes remaining consistent over the years.  Given the huge military presence in Hampton Roads, it’s not surprising that “gays in the military” was a frequent workshop theme.  Coming out was also a frequent theme, as were Lesbian and Gay relationship issues, LGBT affirming-spirituality (including alternative spiritual beliefs like Wicca), and LGBT politics and activism.  Other topics included LGBT youth, bisexuality, diversity within the LGBT community, addictions, safer sex, Lesbian and Gay Unions, LGBT legal concerns, finances, child custody, Lesbian and Gay literature, and dealing with grief.

Breaking the Ice Photo with Caption, Our Own Community Press, March 1991, Page 1 :

Each year ODU’s Webb Center cafeteria was filled with LGBT vendors and organizations.  Vendors included bookstores such as OutRight Books, Phoenix Rising, Lambda Rising, The Tidewater Women’s Bookshelf, White Rabbit Books and Things, and others.  Other vendors sold pagers, candles, clothing and jewelry, health products, and Pagan spiritual supplies, among other things.  Organizations included political and activist organizations like the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Virginians for Justice, and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).   Local service organizations included Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce, AIDSCare, Full Circle Hospice, and American Red Cross.  LGBT-affirming religious organizations were represented.  These included New Life MCC, All God’s Children, Dignity (Catholic), Honesty (gay Baptists), Unitarian-Universalists, Integrity (Episcopal), and Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns.  Support, social, and recreational organizations with tables at the event included Youth Out United, Transgender Pride, Gay Games, Mid-Atlantic Amateur Softball Association, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Primetimers, Lambda Car Club, Gay Men’s Chorus, and Tidewater Bears.

Breaking the Ice couldn’t happen without the support of its sponsors and those organizations that provided volunteers and workshop facilitators.  The two main co-hosts for Breaking the Ice were always the Hampton Roads Lesbian and Gay Pride Coalition and the ODU Gay and Lesbian Student Union (later renamed ODU Gay Lesbian Bisexual Students and Allies).  Over the years other community sponsors and supporters included: Mandamus Society, Hershee Bar, Coral Sand Motel, Don’t Tell Mama restaurant, New Leaf / Quarberg Gallery, Mitch’s Cut-ups, OutRight Books, Out of the Dark, Out and About, Out in Virginia, Our Own Community Press, New Life MCC, Mac Graphics, Virginian’s for Justice, Youth Out United, Bi-Choice, All God’s Children Church, the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce, Tastebuds Supper Club, Taylor Rental, B&B Exxon, and many others.

Breaking the Ice continued at ODU through the late 1990s, and possibly into the early 2000s.  The exact date of the last classic Breaking the Ice is unclear as our primary sources for the festival in the ODU Special Collections and University Archives only go up to 1998.  ODU Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) brought Breaking the Ice back to ODU in 2019.

Looking Back at Polio in the Time of COVID-19

by Kathleen Smith, Special Collections Metadata Specialist

Interview with Norfolk music teacher Leah O’Reilly who became disabled due to being stricken from polio. The interview also includes a tour of her home which has been designed to accommodate her disability:

Today the world has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people world-wide. Scientists are exploring the origins of this virus and what causes it to thrive in order to develop vaccines or even develop forms of treatment (i.e. plasma therapy). Until there is a cure or a way to treat COVID-19, measures such as vaccination, washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, is the only way to fight it.

There was a similar deadly virus which killed and crippled people-mostly young worldwide, this virus was known as poliovirus which caused a disease known as poliomyelitis or called by its shorter form-polio. Poliomyelitis was an infectious disease that was spread through contaminated food and water, causing varying damage to the muscles of the head, neck, and diaphragm, as well as spinal damage. Paralysis, muscle deformities, and breathing difficulties were the effects left on those who were infected.

Polio quarantine sign-From Penn State News:

Even though poliomyelitis existed back into ancient times, the first reports of polio were recorded in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, which included an on outbreak in Vermont infecting 132 people and killing eighteen. In the summer of 1916, a major polio epidemic broke out in the United States, starting in Brooklyn, which infected 27,000 across the United States, along with 6,000 deaths (2,000 of the deaths were in New York City). As a result, affected families and individuals were quarantined, movie theaters and swimming pools were closed, public gatherings were a rarity, and young people were told to avoid drinking from water fountains and to not to go to the beach. After the 1916 outbreak, there would be a polio epidemic each summer with the most serious cases occurring during the 1940s and 1950s. The worst known outbreak was in the United States was in 1952 with 57,628 cases which resulted in 3,145 deaths and 21,269 with mild to severe paralysis.

“Polio and Children,” features children being treated at DePaul Hospital and the hospital’s campaign to fund those treatments. In the segment one can see a very ill young man being treated in a “rocking bed” in order to improve his breathing and a very young girl in an iron lung to help her breathe:

Over the years efforts would be made, such as improvement of sanitation practices, trying to finding a vaccine, as well as an developing an array of treatments to treat the effects of the virus such as the iron lung, the rocking bed, antibody serum treatment, splints, and hot compresses. A breakthrough came in 1952 medical researcher Jonas Salk developed an injectable vaccine containing a dose of killed poliovirus. The vaccine was put in use worldwide in 1955. The number of polio cases went down dramatically in the United States: 35,000 in 1953; 5,600 in 1957; 161 in 1961. An equally successful oral vaccine developed by Albert Sabin in 1957 and licensed in 1962, used a live but weakened virus, and gradually replaced the Salk vaccine due to it being easier to administer and less expensive in cost. Today there are fewer than 1,000 cases in the United States and the world. I hope the same can be done for COVID-19.

A brief news segment from 1963, features an unidentified medical official urging people to come to a local immunization clinic for an oral polio vaccination program:

In the 1950s polio greatly affected the local Hampton Roads population young and old. A news show airing on the fledgling television station WTAR-TV, called “Tidewater Viewpoint” featured stories/segments on those who were affected by polio in Hampton Roads. These segments are part of the WTAR News Collection in the ODU Libraries Digital Collections.


New Online Exhibition! Russell Stanger: Portrait of an American Conductor

by Madeline Dietrich, Music Special Collections and Research Specialist


I am pleased to announce the publication of a new digital exhibition, Russell Stanger: Portrait of an American Conductor, and I’d like to take a moment to offer some background on the project. It began in 2018 with the charge to identify correspondence and photographs from the Russell Stanger Papers documenting Maestro Stanger’s friendship with Leonard Bernstein in celebration of the latter’s 100th birthday. It turns out the collection contains only a few items directly relating to Stanger and Bernstein’s relationship, however, as I pored through the collection it became clear that there was more than enough material to create an exhibition focused solely on Russell Stanger.  

The Russell Stanger Papersis a large collection, consisting of over 75 linear feet of materials including manuscripts, conducting scores, original works, photographs, correspondence, sound recordings, and ephemera from Stanger’s long career as an internationally known conductor and composer. Due to the constraints of the physical space designated for the exhibition I selected only visual materials (photographs, newspaper clippings, program covers) and omitted any multi-media objects (sound recordings, video footage). Further, I wished to target a general audience and thus I avoided inclusion of esoteric materials (for example, items consisting of notated music).  

The physical exhibition was installed in the Diehn Building at ODU during the fall of 2018 and remained in place for 18 months. It was arranged chronologically and covered Stanger’s young adulthood through the time he was hired by the Norfolk Symphony Group in 1966 and was intended to showcase Stanger’s credentials as a conductor and why he was hired to lead the Norfolk Symphony as music director. At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic it was decided to digitize the exhibition and expand it to include Stanger’s entire career through his retirement in the late 2000s, and this online exhibition is the result.  

In keeping with the original intent, the exhibition focuses solely on Stanger’s professional life, omitting materials relating to Stanger’s personal life and focusing on visual materials. Additionally, there is little attention in the exhibition relating to Stanger’s significant contributions as a composer. Despite these omissions it is my sincere hope that the items displayed here are sufficient to give at least a basic account of Russell Stanger’s career as conductor, orchestra-builder, and Maestro. 

The Joy of Gelatin Molds and Recipes of Old

By Special Collections Assistant Mel Frizzell

L0072306 Illustrated recipe for 'Under the Sea Salad'

With the holidays coming up, I decided to change pace from my usual blog posts to write about finding recipes and cookbooks in the archives.  I can’t say that I’m that much of a cook myself.  Back at the beginning of this pandemic when friends and co-workers were sharing all their great cooking and baking photos on social media, I was pretty proud of myself when I made instant pudding – pour pudding mix into bowl, add half cup of milk, stir vigorously with a whisk, and chill at least 30 minutes.  When I wanted to get fancy, I made it banana pudding, threw in some sliced bananas, and haphazardly placed some vanilla wafers on top.  If it takes more than two pots to cook or mixing a multitude of ingredients from scratch, I’m likely to leave well alone. 

While I’m not much of a cook, that doesn’t stop me from being fascinated by recipes and cookbooks.  I have dozens of cookbooks at home (many that caught my attention in the checkout line of the grocery store) and a number of recipes I’ve printed from the internet with good intentions.  Occasionally, I’ll pull these out, wipe off the dust, and imagine how great it would be to cook something from them – only to decide upon further reflection that maybe I should just get takeout.

In my years working in the archives, I’ll occasionally stumble upon a recipe or even a cookbook in a collection I’m working on.  Cookbooks and recipes in collections include the personal (or at least personally collected) recipes of the donor, compilation cookbooks created by organizations (often created for fundraising), and sometimes official cookbooks published for mass consumption (though these are often removed unless they are specifically related to the donor or their collection). 

Recipes and cookbooks in the archives can provide cultural and historical context.  For example, in our Special Collections in the ODU Library we have a cookbook created for the Clan MacLeod Society of the USA.  This is a Scottish society for those of the MacLeod lineage.  You wouldn’t at all be surprised to know that one of the recipes in the book is for “Haggis.”  What might surprise you are non-Scottish recipes like “Australian Bacon and Eggs” or “Hawaiian Chicken.” But it is a compilation cookbook and most folks don’t limit their choices in food to one culture, even if they are proud of their heritage.


As for historical context, certain ingredients and food trends might be related to a certain period of time.  How many of us in the 21st century still cook with lard?  How many of us are watching our fat or sodium intake? Do we subscribe to a dieting trend – Paleo, Keto, Atkins, Slow Carb, etc.?  Various trends and fads of the time might influence what you find in an old cookbook.

The preface to the 1993 reprint of the Unitarian Church’s “Your Bazaar Cookbook” from 1958 states this idea well.

This 1958 Unitarian Church Cook Book has been reproduced just as it was written. 
You might find it dated.  The recipes were not selected for “low cholesterol” or “low sodium.” You will find ingredients that are not familiar to us today (lard, for instance).
Also, the quotes, “Mental Spices!”, are not the ones we’d pick today.
However, we present it to you, almost as is, with grateful appreciation for those earlier “UU’s” who were then only “U’s” but who were on the same quest we are on in 1993.
“The Liberal Seasonings” Cookbook Crew
Norfolk, Virginia, November, 1993

The Unitarian Church cookbook is a perfect example of a compilation cookbook created for an organization.  “Your Bazaar Cookbook” was reprinted at the same time the Church decided to compile and print a contemporary cookbook titled “Liberal Seasonings.”  The older cookbook contained sections titled “Mental Spices” and the 1993 cookbook continued this tradition with sections titled “Food for Thought.”  The idea was that the cookbook contained not just recipes of food for the body, but also recipes for life and the soul.

Prefaces, forwards, and other sections in these cookbooks can provide additional historical context, and sometimes humor.  “Your Bazaar Cookbook” has this piece of humor under its “Mental Spice” headings “Salmon is a fish that lurks in a can and only comes out when unexpected company arrives.”  The newer “Liberal Seasonings Cookbook” under its “Food for Thought” provides this definition from Abrose Bierce: “Deliberation.  The act of examining one’s bread to determine which side it is buttered on.” I thought the preface to the Clan MacLeod Family Cookbook especially entertaining.  Rather than quoting it directly, I have included an image of the page here. 

Years ago, I remember seeing a cookbook devoted entirely to gelatin molds.  It was fascinating to see the things they’d throw into Jell-O from the 1930s into at least into the 1970s.  Historically speaking, gelatin didn’t become mainstream until refrigeration became mainstream in the early 20th century, though it has been around in some form since Victorian times.  Today, we mostly think of Jell-O as dessert, but back then gelatin molds could be anything from a dessert to a main course.  While I couldn’t identify that exact cookbook when writing this article*, I did find examples of gelatin mold recipes in other cookbooks in our collections.  The Creative Cookery Recipe Book in the Edythe Harrison Papers included various gelatin molds including: a Salmon or Haddock Mold, an “Out of this World” Tuna Mold, a Horseradish Ring, and a Crisp Cucumber Mold.  Betty Howell’s recipes include a gelatin mold recipe for Cole Slaw Souffle Salad.  The Cook Family Papers contains an undated Jell-O recipe book that contains mostly desserts. 


Cookbooks and recipes in our Special Collections at ODU include: the Clan MacLeod Family Cookbook (undated); the Unitarian Church “Your Bazaar Cook Book (1958) and also their “Liberal Seasonings Cookbook (1993); the 1975 Creative Cookery recipe book created by the Norfolk and Virginia Beach Chapters of the Women’s American ORT (this cookbook includes sections on Jewish traditional and Passover meals among others); a 1950 personal recipe for Shrimp Lamaze from Eleanor Bader; a small collection of personal recipes from Betty Howell including the aforementioned  Cole Slaw Souffle Salad; various recipes in the James Washington Singleton Papers including a historical  1785 “Slave Recipe for Beer” and various recipes (both handwritten and clipped from newspapers) from the late 19th / early 20th centuries;  and the Whittle Family’s recipe for Rum Punch in the Warren Spencer Papers.  The Cook Family Papers includes a 1907 recipe book titled “Choice Recipes by Miss Parloa and other Noted Teachers;” a 1907 Recipe Book by Walter Baker & Co. Ltd. Manufacturer of Cocoa & Chocolate Preparations, Dorchester, Mass. which contains all sorts of chocolate dessert recipes; an undated (early 20th century) recipe book for making ice cream and “frozen dainties” using the “Auto Vacuum Freezer” device; an undated recipe book for using “Jell-O Ice Cream Powder;” “A Selection of Old and New Recipes for using Amber Brand Deviled Smithfield Ham” (undated) created by The Smithfield Ham & Products Company, Inc., Smithfield, Virginia; and “A Few Recipes from Virginia” compiled by the Hampton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  This last recipe book is also not dated, but mentions the Jamestown Exposition which took place in 1907.

So if you’re looking for a historical recipe for this upcoming Thanksgiving, just want to see what people ate back in the day, or want to get adventurous with Jell-O, consider searching for recipes in the archives.

* It’s possible this gelatin cookbook may have been the Jell-O recipe book from the Cook Family Papers, but I remember a larger cookbook with more main course and side type recipes.  This one is mostly desserts. 

Images: Clan MacLeod Cookbook preface, and “Out of this World” Tuna Mold (from Edythe Harrison’s Creative Cookery” recipe book).

‘Under the Sea Salad”


Clan MacLeod Family Cookbook, Box 80, Folder 9, Clan MacLeod Society USA Records, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Your Bazaar Cookbook 1958 (1993 reprint), Box 61, Folder 9, Unitarian Universalist Church of Norfolk, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Liberal Seasonings Cookbook 1993, Box 61, Folder 9, Unitarian Universalist Church of Norfolk, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Rum Punch Recipe from Whittle Family, Box 1, Folder 36. Warren Spencer Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Betty Howell’s Recipes, Box 282, Folder 8, Henry Howell Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Recipes, Box 4, Folder 19, Eleanor Bader Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Creative Cookery, Box 74, Folder 18, Edythe Harrison Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Slave Recipe for Beer, Box 28, Folder 22, James Washington Singleton Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Recipes, Box 28, Folders 1-5, James Washington Singleton Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

“Choice Recipes by Miss Parloa and other Noted Teachers”, Box 5, Folder 3, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Walter Baker & Co. Ltd. Manufacturer of Cocoa & Chocolate Preparations, Dorchester, Mass., Box 5, Folder 3, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Auto Vacuum Frozen Dainties Ice Cream maker and freezer recipes using the “Auto Vacuum Freezer”, Box 8, Folder 3, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

“Jell-O Ice Cream Powder”, Box 8, Folder 3, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

“A Selection of Old and New Recipes for using Amber Brand Deviled Smithfield Ham”, Box 8, Folder 3, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

“A Few Recipes from Virginia”, Box 5, Folder 7, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Recipes, Box 12, Folder 30, Cook Family papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Wikipedia, ‘Jell-O’:

Local History: Discovering The Fight For Desegregation In Norfolk

by Ethan Dykes, HIS368 Intern

As a resident of the Hampton Roads area I have always been fascinated by the region’s rich history. It’s been home to many important historical events, towns, buildings, and people. Jamestown and Williamsburg were some of the first successful colonial settlements. The first enslaved Africans believed to be brought to the Americas were deported on the coast of Point Comfort, not more than thirty miles from where I live. My own home town was the site of a battle in the Revolutionary War, where Virginia rebels pushed out British forces and helped secure key points in the area. The great city of Norfolk is home to the largest Navy base in the world and has long been an important city in America’s history. One aspect of my local history, however, that I have largely overlooked has been the fight against racism. We all know of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and others that fought so famously against segregation and racial oppression. We all know of the March on Washington, the events on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the many other great examples of the fight for justice. But so often do we forget the smaller victories against racism, so often do we not realize the local impacts these events have on us.

Granby Street late 1960s

The Importance of Archives in Preserving Local History

Thanks to my experiences as an intern with the Special Collections Department at Old Dominion University, I have had the privilege of seeing some of this history firsthand. I was able to watch several videos from different news outlets from the 1960’s and 70’s. The videos included several interviews, statements, and images on desegregation, and many were focused on the city of Norfolk specifically. I saw President Eisenhower give a statement on desegregation and the closing of schools in several cities such as Norfolk. I saw the Virginia General Assembly issue a response to the  Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court, and their plans to implement the Massive Resistance policy to prevent desegregation. I also saw several videos of activists fighting for the desegregation of schools and other public buildings, such as the YMCA. Each video captured the feelings of Norfolk citizens at the time, and how the changes in government, such as the Brown vs. Board decision and the implementation of Massive Resistance, caused them to react. The fight against racism and segregation in Norfolk was captured and documented in these archives, and I of all people was given the opportunity to observe and organize them. I had never before now truly appreciated the rich history of Norfolk and its citizens who fought against racism. Norfolk and the rest of Hampton Roads has had a long and deep history, filled with ordinary people doing great things.

Protest over the Norfolk YMCA’s segregation policies

Everyday Deeds

Until recently, I did not consider the area of Hampton Roads, and Norfolk specifically, to be of some importance in the fight against segregation. We are always told to study the big events and the people who had the most impact on the world. The people and events involved in the local history of Hampton Roads may not have been as memorable or had as large of an impact as other occurrences in their times, but their efforts were still felt and preserved in history. The civil rights movement in Norfolk may not have been the most noticed or impactful of efforts in America, but it nonetheless changed the city and its citizens for generations to come. This look into local history reminded me that even the smallest things can have large impacts. It was thanks to the cumulative efforts of ordinary people that the schools in Norfolk were reopened, desegregation was implemented, YMCA buildings and other facilities were opened to people regardless of color, all because the citizens of Norfolk and others willed it. When observing history in such a way, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of a famous grey wizard: “Some believe that it is only great power that can keep evil in check. But I have found that it is the small every-day deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay”. Despite what many may think history is not just made of people or events of major significance. Its foundations lie with the efforts of everyday people in everyday towns, creating a cumulative structure filled with local history and local people, of which we should strive to preserve and learn from.

National Coming Out Day an ODU LGBT+ Tradition

By Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant


October is National Gay and Lesbian History Month and October 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD). 

National Coming Out Day has been an ODU tradition for LGBT folks on campus since 1989.  In terms of ODU traditions, that’s a pretty long time.  While founded as a Division of the College of William and Mary in Norfolk in 1930, ODU didn’t become a full-fledged university until 1969.   It really hasn’t been until the last decade or two that ODU started thinking in terms of what traditions we have to offer, so an annual event celebrated at ODU since 1989… well in ODU terms that’s a pretty long time.

National Coming Out Day grew out of a February 1988 conference held in Virginia.  Attending this event were approximately 200 LGBT leaders from across the United States.  The day was envisioned as a way to carry forward the energy and enthusiasm from the October 11, 1987 Lesbian and Gay March on Washington.  This march drew 600,000 people in a time when it was harder for LGBT folks to be open about their sexuality. 

The purpose of National Coming Out Day is to encourage LGBT folks to “take the next step” in their coming out process – to push their boundaries, and to be truthful and open – but to do so in a way that is safe for them.  This next step can be something private such as telling a family member or friend, or something public like being visible as an LGBT person in one’s community.  National Coming Out Day recognized that coming out is often a lifelong process for LGBT individuals. 

The purpose of the event is also to foster LGBT visibility.  Unlike Gay Pride Day, which is all about celebrating the LGBT community, National Coming Out Day has been about LGBT folks letting the community at large know they exist and who they are.   Unlike many marginalized communities, it isn’t always obvious who is LGBT.  Many people don’t know that they know someone who is LGBT, and many LGBT folks remain in the closet for fear of harassment, job discrimination, or ridicule from friends and family.  This was even more the case in the late 1980s when National Coming Out Day was founded than it is today.  The cost of being invisible is that it fosters misunderstanding, stereotypes, and bigotry.   Those who know someone who is LGBT are also more likely to support LGBT rights issues. 

The first ever National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988.  It was organized by Jean O’Leary of the National Gay Rights Advocates and by Robert Eichberg founder of a personal growth workshop called “Experience Weekend.”  The first National Coming Out Day was covered in both mainstream and LGBT publications.  National publications providing coverage included USA Today, CNN, and NPR.  Oprah Winfrey dedicated segments of her show that day to coming out. 

After 1988, National Coming Out Day became its own organization to promote the annual event, to keep track of these events across the country, and to provide coming out resources.  In 1990, the NCOD organization merged with the Human Rights Campaign to become the National Coming Out Day Project.


The ODU Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) was on board for the second ever National Coming Out Day on October 11, 1989.  The GLSU officially started meeting as a student organization on campus earlier that year in the Spring semester.  This first National Coming Out Day Social at ODU was held in the Suffolk Room in Webb Center from 3:30-5:30pm.  The event included refreshments, discussion, and coming out resources.  During the first decade and possibly much longer, this annual social at ODU was held in Webb Center.  In 1990, the GLSU extended an invitation to folks from other local colleges and universities, as well as a local LGBT youth group, to attend.  Music was also added to the line-up.  In 1991, the event included the film “On Being Gay.”  A National Coming Out Day exhibit was displayed in front of the ODU Bookstore that year.  At the time, the bookstore was located in Webb Center.  The display included LGBT books and buttons, as well as an official National Coming Out Day poster and t-shirt.  In 1992, National Coming Out Day included a showing of the film “Since Stonewall.”  In 1999, the film “Working with Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students” was shown and a “Reflections Gallery” was created in Webb Center.  The gallery was “A chance to view a collection of written thoughts, feelings, and experiences from the Old Dominion Community about gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. “

Today as LGBT people are more accepted by society, National Coming Out Day has come to be a day of celebration for the LGBT community.  While largely a U.S. holiday, it is also celebrated internationally in Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

National Coming Out Day has become one of many events held at ODU and across the U.S. in conjunction with LGBT History Month.  LGBT History Month was founded in 1994 by a Missouri high school history teacher named Rodney Wilson.  The month is celebrated in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day.  LGBT History Month celebrates the contributions of LGBT individuals, organizations, and community to history and society, as well as the LGBT struggle for civil rights. 

“Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”
– Robert Eichberg, 1993


ODU gay group to hold social”, Our Own Community Press, October 1989, p. 7.

“Members of Old Dominion University’s Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) display their banner and a National Coming Out Day Poster (photo with caption)”, Our Own Community Press, November 1989. p. 17.

“The ODU GLSU Invites You! National Coming Out Day Social (advertisement), Our Own Community Press, October 1990, p. 6.

“October 11 is third annual National Coming Out Day”, Our Own Community Press, October 1990, p. 22.

“October 11 – Norfolk: Coming Out Day Social, Old Dominion University Gay and Lesbian Student Union (calendar listing)”, Our Own Community Press, October 1991, p. 21.

“October 8 – Norfolk: National Coming Out Day Social, ODU GLSU (calendar listing)”, Our Own Community Press, October 1992, p. 15.  

“National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11”, Our Own Community Press, October 1993, p. 2.

National Coming Out Day Social (flyer), Box 2, Folder 10, Old Dominion University Gay and Lesbian Student Union (GLSU) Records, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Gimme Some Loving

by Maddie Dietrich, Music Special Collections and Research Specialist

Gene Loving with members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

We in SCUA are excited to announce the acquisition of a unique collection from the local pop music industry, the business records of AGL (A Gene Loving) Productions, a concert promotion agency that brought some of the greatest legends of pop music to Hampton Roads during the 1960s and 70s.

Who is Gene Loving?

A historical player in southeast Virginia’s music scene, both as a concert promoter and as a radio/TV personality. Loving worked his way up in the radio business as a disc jockey and later as music director for Richmond station WLEE. He got his start as a promoter when he booked Freddy Cannon for a live broadcast in 1961. He later moved to WGH where he became the first DJ to pick a Beatles record as a future hit, and over the next four decades he would become one of Virginia’s most recognized on-air personalities.

What did he donate?

A trove of business records and promotional materials (press kits, booking agreements, correspondence, photographs and ephemera) that tell the stories of the pop, rock, and R&B legends Loving’s agency brought to Hampton Roads: the hotels where they stayed, the accommodations they required, the venues where they performed, how much they were paid, and which shows sold out (and which ones flopped). Included among the artists Loving booked were James Brown, The Yardbirds, Sonny & Cher, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, and The Jackson Five.


While most performances went smoothly, the records reveal occasional hang-ups, from minor contractual disputes to complete show cancellations, with a few involving local law enforcement. In his autobiography Loving Life Loving recalls an incident with The Rolling Stones during their 1966 US tour when they were scheduled to play back-to-back performances at the Dome in Virginia Beach. Extra police had been hired for security after word got out of a small riot at the Stones’ performance in Boston four days prior. For the first show at the Dome police lined up shoulder to shoulder in front of the stage in a display of force that subdued the crowd so much that they responded to each song with only mild applause. Mick Jagger was so angered by this that after the show he called Loving to the dressing room and gave him a thorough dressing-down, shouting that never in all of their shows all over the world had they endured such a humiliating performance thanks to the excessive show of force. Jagger threatened not to play the second show unless the police were removed, which they were.

Virginia Beach police lined up in front of the Rolling Stones.

Where is Gene Loving now?

After four decades in radio Loving turned to television where he was an early innovator in UHF broadcast, developing one of the largest chains of independent stations in US history. He later founded Hampton Roads Wireless. He is the recipient of countless awards in broadcast and philanthropy, and currently enjoys an active retirement lifestyle in Virginia Beach.

*Special thanks to Gene Loving for donating this collection and Dr. Tim J. Anderson for supporting our efforts to collect and promote popular music archives.

How LGBTQ+ Folks Spent Summer Vacations in the 1990s

By Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant


This is a continuation of my blog posts referencing Our Own Community Press, a Virginia LGBTQ+ community newspaper which ran from 1976 to 1998. 

With the Fall semester starting, I thought about the timeless “What I did on my summer vacation” essay that so many of us were asked to write upon returning to school.  With so many summer activities and vacations cancelled this summer due to the current pandemic, I thought I would highlight what LGBT folks did for summer vacations in the 1990s.  While many LGBT folks did the same things as everyone else – such as visiting the beach, going on cruises, or enjoying theme parks – there are LGBT specific things that are mentioned or advertised in Our Own Community Press so I thought I would highlight some of these.

One did not need to travel far to find summer activities such as sports, recreational clubs, conferences and gatherings, festivals, or other events catering to the LGBT community.  Local LGBT sports teams, clubs, and activities included the Lambda Wheelers, an LGBT bicycling group; the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Softball Association; volleyball tournaments at Stockley Gardens and Northside Park in Norfolk; and the Mid-Atlantic Bowling League.  Other recreational activities included canoeing, hiking, rollerblading, women’s golf, and even skydiving. 


Local summer benefits included pool parties sponsored by the Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce (TACT) and the AIDSCARE Sunset Sprint Music Festival held at Ocean View Beach Park in June 1997.  Some LGBT folks attended the biannual Stockley Gardens Art Festival held each May. 

Local cruises on the Elizabeth River were popular.  The Mandamus Society, an LGBT social group, held an annual cruise on the Carrie-B during the 90s.  At least one year, there was an LGBT cruise on the Spirit of Norfolk too.  While “Gay Days” at Busch Gardens had not yet become a thing, the first “Gay Days” at King’s Dominion was held in July 1997.  “Gay Days” at Disney World in Florida began in the summer of 1991. 

Beach vacations were also quite popular.  Virginia Beach had its very own “Gay Beach Resort.”  The Coral Sand Motel located on Pacific Avenue catered to LGBT clientele.  The Outer Banks provided nearby beach getaways for LGBT folks.   Rehoboth Beach in Delaware was also a popular choice.  The Mandamus Society and Dignity, an LGBT Catholic group, both planned trips there in the 1990s.  Our Own contains advertisements for Rehoboth Beach Resorts.


LGBT conferences and gatherings ranged from the serious to the fun.  Many catered to diverse populations within the LGBT community.  Serious conferences included the annual Lesbian and Gay Health Conference and AIDS Forum; the Southeast Lesbian / Gay Conference in July 1991; the International Lesbian & Gay Conference in Acapulco in 1991; and a Lesbian Writer’s conference in 1992. 

Fun favorites included many women’s festivals and gatherings such as the Richmond Women’s Festival in 1990; the Roanoke Valley Women’s Festival in 1991, an annual East Coast Lesbian Festival; and WomenFest in Key West, FL in 1997.  Regular women’s festivals were held at Twin Oaks campground in Luisa, Virginia and the INTOUCH women’s campground in Kent’s Store, Virginia.  Music festivals were especially popular among Lesbians.  These festivals included the Northeast Women’s Musical Retreat; the annual Virginia Women’s Music Festival held at INTOUCH; and the annual Rhythm Fest Women’s Music, Art, and Politics Festival held at Lookout Mountain in Georgia.  Some men held camping gatherings too.  These include the annual Gay Spirit Visions Conference in Highlands, NC and a men’s gathering held at Twin Oaks in 1993.  Women’s and men’s gatherings sometimes highlighted LGBT-affirming alternative spiritual beliefs including New Age, Pagan, and Earth-based spirituality. 

Film festivals were also popular among LGBT folks.  Among these were the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival the summer of 1997 and Outfest, an annual gay and lesbian film festival held in Los Angeles.  

Many conferences highlighted the diversity among LGBT folks – the Golden Threads Lesbian Celebration for Lesbians over age 50 in 1990; the National Gay Young Adults Conference also in 1990; a 1990 gathering of North and South American Native American LGBT folks; a 1996 conference and AIDS institute for gay men of color; and an annual “Women Celebrating Our Diversity” Gathering at Twin Oaks Campground.   Gay geeks weren’t left out as the Gaylaxicon science fiction convention, which was founded in 1988, continued throughout the 1990s and beyond. 


Other big events of the 1990s included the Gay Games, an Olympic style event for LGBT athletes.  The Gay Games started in 1982 and continues to this day.  In the 1990s, the event was held in 1990, 1994, and 1998.  Many LGBT folks also attended the 1996 International Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA.  The Atlantic States Gay Rodeo is mentioned in Our Own articles for 1996 and 1997.  Many LGBT folks attended the GALA performing arts festival held in Tampa, FL in 1996.  Maya Angelou was a keynote speaker at the event. 

The 1990s were a great time for LGBT vacation packages.  In the 1990s the travel industry took note of a perceived “disposable income” within the LGBT community.  The idea is that many LGBT professional couples have extra income that isn’t going toward raising children that they can spend on leisure instead.  While this myth persists even today, and there are many affluent people in the LGBT community, there are also many LGBT folks who aren’t especially wealthy or have dependents – LGBT parents (notably Lesbian mothers), LGBT folks from low income communities, and LGBT folks who have met with job discrimination.  During the 1990s the LGBT travel industry flourished.  Companies such as Toto Tours and Alyson Adventures offered tours, cruises, and destinations specifically for LGBT travelers.  Sometimes there were separate women’s and men’s vacations, and other times the events were mixed.  Local travel agencies such as Moore Travel (Norfolk), UNIGLOBE ITA Travel (Norfolk), and Four Seasons Travel (Williamsburg) arranged LGBT vacation packages.  Bed and breakfasts and private resorts catering to LGBT folks offered options for those looking for smaller, low-key vacations.


LGBT travel magazines and guides promoted the LGBT travel industry.  Such publications included magazines like Our World and Out and About; global guides such as Damron’s many guides, Ferrari’s Places of Interest: Worldwide Gay & Lesbian Guide, and Women Going Places 1993/94: A Women’s Complete Guide to International Travel; and city specific guides like Betty & Pansy’s Severe Queer Review of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.: An Alternative Guide For Those Who Don’t Necessarily Travel the Straight and Narrow. 

So, while most of us are hoping that 2021 will be a better time than 2020 for joining in recreational activities or going on vacations, we can always look back at what folks did for fun in the 1990s.  Perhaps looking through the articles, advertisements, and event listings in Our Own will provide you with nostalgia for the days when we could go out without masks and social distancing.  Better yet, it might give you an idea for something to do when this pandemic is over. 

Archived issues of Our Own Community Press are available digitally at:

Carolyn Rhodes, Pioneer and Inspiration

By ODU Student Assistant Caroline Vanderlinder

After transcribing some documents in the Carolyn Rhodes digital archive collection- was shocked to find out how extraordinary she was. Rhodes was one of the founders of the Old Dominion University’s women’s caucus, friends of women studies, as well as the trust for feminist education program. Rhodes made a huge contribution to the advancement of the status of women at the University. She went through all the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, and then became an English professor in a time when advancement for women at ODU was slim.

During the 1970s, male professors received quicker promotions and tenure than female faculty members. The research conducted by the caucus showed males were granted a 57% chance of tenure while  females were granted a 33% chance. The information gathered by the caucus was collected from public information, and through every rank they found female employees earned $1000 less than males. If that was the information they found in the public records, I can’t imagine what they would have found if they were given access to the private records. In 1974, the president of ODU never refuted or attempted to disprove the information. It was only after the department of labor opened an investigation that the salary inequities were looked into, however the gap wasn’t closed fully.

Carolyn Rhodes’ shared her personal experiences during an oral history interview conducted in 2009:

After reading Professor Rhodes’ syllabus, I could see she was an intense professor who expected nothing but the best work from her students. At the time, Women’s studies was just beginning, and failure would not have been acceptable. Although she was a tough professor, her students and peers believed she was an inspiration. Her experiences and the knowledge she had to offer was irreplaceable. Apart from teaching at Old Dominion and the University of Kentucky, her teachings were also respected overseas at Peking University, China, and Babes-Bolyai University, Romania where she was a Fulbright lecturer in American Literature.

I am done transcribing the Carolyn Rhodes collection but I know I have so much more to learn about her. Learning about Carolyn Rhodes and what she has done for us women at ODU has made me proud.

Everyone in the Special Collections and University Archives program has thoroughly enjoyed working with Caroline, and we are so glad she stayed on with us to transcribe the Carolyn Rhodes digital collection during the COVID-19 closure. We wish her the best with her studies this fall! -Jessica Ritchie, Head of Special Collections & University Archives

Making Our Collections More Accessible Online with ArchivesSpace

by Steven Bookman, University Archivist

Although I worked from home every Friday for a semester while working at William & Mary, it has been several years, and it was hard to get back into the rhythm. Working from home does have its advantages: you can be more productive, can work at your own pace, and it does force you to take breaks every now and then! Like those in the software field, I am finding telework to be a great advantage for doing database cleanup. This year, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) will be migrating its Special Collections Database of finding aids into a new collection management system called ArchivesSpace. One of the tasks that I will be working on from home is cleaning up the current database to make sure it is ready to be migrated to ArchivesSpace.

Sneak Peek of ArchivesSpace Interface

I spent most of this week getting re-acclimated into the telework mindset: scheduling my day, setting up my home office, and viewing a LinkedIn Learning course on telework. Before having our own test instance of ArchivesSpace up, I wanted to see what our current finding aids might look like in the new system. The hosted test instance of ArchivesSpace provides a place for institutions to upload versions of their finding aids, accessions, and digital objects for testing. In this way, if anything goes wrong, it will not affect their current, live instance.  Admittedly, after spending over 12 years working with Archon, the new interface requires some time getting used to.

After creating a sample repository for SCUA, I uploaded two finding aids (manuscript and university archives) to the system. The new interface takes advantage of a lot of graphics and icons (collections, accessions, creators, digital collections, etc..), so I wanted to see if I could put at least one item in each icon. Unlike our current system, Archon, users can search both across all the repositories in the collection as well as narrow down your search to just one repository. This gives the researcher the flexibility of getting a lot of relevant hits as well as focusing their search to just one institution. After adding in record groups, accessions, and digital materials, SCUA staff can see what the current finding aids will look like in the new system. Although it may look a bit daunting to get used to at first, I believe the new collection management system will be an improvement over the current one.

Stay tuned for future updates about the status of SCUA’s Special Collections Database migration.