SAGA began in 1974 as the Carolina Gay Association, with a mission to “liberate and educate” queer and allied UNC students. As a political and social group, the Carolina Gay Association held picnics and other social events, maintained a gay library, and distributed information at tables in the Union.
1976 saw the founding of Lambda, the first student-run queer publication in the United States. Though it primarily served as a newsletter for the Carolina Gay Association, Lambda also offered commentary on queer political issues. Its first issue, among other topics, contained information on the Carolina Gay Association’s “gay orientation week” to help queer students get accustomed to life on campus.
As the AIDS crisis escalated in the 1980s, the Carolina Gay Association became more politically active, battling the university administration and state legislature. It survived many defunding attempts from student government and the state. In 1985, the first of many name changes–to the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association–made it more inclusive.
In 1992, the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association again changed its name to Bisexuals, Gay Men, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity (B-GLAD). Having survived political challenges throughout the 80s, B-GLAD was firmly established in the UNC community during the 1990s. Among its actions were a helpline for students coming to terms with their sexuality and a joint effort with the LGBTQ Office (now LGBTQ Center) to bring Safe Zone trainings to UNC. In 1998, B-GLAD became the Queer Network for Change.
As the 2000s began, the Queer Network for Change faced dwindling membership and was replaced by GLBTSA, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Straight Alliance. GLBTSA renewed queer political activism on campus as it fought for gender neutral bathrooms on campus. In 2013, GLBSTA changed its name to SAGA – the organization we know today. SAGA became a Campus Y committee in 2019.
Their current mission statement is:
The Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) works to foster a strong LGBTQ+ community at UNC. SAGA is an events-based organization that hosts many programs and activities throughout the year. Examples include Queer Prom, Trivia Night, monthly Movie Nights, and much more! In addition, we hold collaborations with other student groups on campus to celebrate the intersectional nature of LGBTQ+ life. Above all else, SAGA strives to promote the welfare of all LGBTQ+ folks on campus. Everyone is welcome to our events, and we look forward to meeting you!
Sam Levi Sizemore