Spaghetti Dinner 40th Anniversary

Image source: Our Own Community Press, September 1976, Page 1, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries.

In 2016 TQHP director Cathleen Rhodes wanted to mark the 40th anniversary of Our Own. The paper has been instrumental in the historical research that the organization conducts, helping us uncover so much information about Norfolk and the surrounding cities from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. It is a treasure, and without it piecing together local queer history would be so much more difficult and so much less complete. Rhodes approached Fred Osgood, one of the first people to be interviewed by TQHP, and a founding member of Our Own Community Press, about recreating the Spaghetti Dinner that started it all in 1976. That free dinner brought the community together to discuss creating a gay and lesbian newspaper, and one short month later Our Own distributed its first issue.

The 2016 gathering was a way to celebrate the impact of the paper and its long list of founders, writers, editors, publishers, distributors, and advertisers and to do so in the same location the first spaghetti dinner — the Unitarian Church of Norfolk. UCN volunteers sprung into action coordinating spaghetti, bread, salads, and desserts for nearly 100 attendees. It was particularly poignant to recreate the spaghetti dinner on that 40th anniversary as UCN, longtime residents of Norfolk and so supportive of the LGBTQ community, would soon move to a new location in Virginia Beach. Thus, the anniversary dinner also celebrated the long history of queer activism that took place in the walls the UCN building.

More information about the 40th Anniversary Spaghetti Dinner can be found at:

Tidewater Queer History Project Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Our Own Newspaper