On Friday, the Tidewater Queer History Project (TQHP) hosted a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Gay Caucus’s (UUGC) organization and publication of the first issue of Our Own Community Press.
Held at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, the event drew nearly 100 people to hear the often moving first-hand stories of the UUGC’s founders and Our Own’s publishers.
Jim Early, editor of Our Own, provided some historical context for the UUGC’s founding. Fred Osgood then gave an emotional account of the challenges and setbacks the UUGC confronted during its early days. Our Own publisher Alicia Herr recounted the history of Our Own, which at one point had one of the largest circulations of any LGBT newspaper.
Afterwards, attendees enjoyed spaghetti dinner in honor of the UUGC’s inaugural social event in 1976. Cathleen Rhodes, founder of the Tidewater Queer History Project then gave a presentation of the Project’s efforts to document the region’s LGBTQ history through filmed oral histories and the digitization of published documents.
“Our Own sparked many other groups and activist events in Hampton Roads for more than two decades,” said Rhodes, “and it all started with a spaghetti dinner in 1976.”
Our Own was created, published and distributed by members of the UUGC from 1976-1998. The TQHP, in conjunction with the newspaper’s former publishers and the ODU Library, has preserved the entire Our Own archive and is in the process of digitizing the collection.