On November 30, 1972, during a dinner party at a home in Neenah, discussions ensued regarding the possibility of forming a gay and lesbian group or organization for the Oshkosh-to-Appleton area. There were six men at that dinner party who agreed to speak with their gay and lesbian friends about this subject.
A week later, on December 6, an organizational group of twenty gays and lesbians met at the Conway Hotel bar in Appleton. There were subsequent meetings on December 12th, 19th and 27th at various locations. A post office box was rented and notices were posted at UW-Oshkosh, Lawrence University and UW-Stevens Point. The group called itself the Fox Valley Gay Alliance (FVGA).
Meetings were held every other Tuesday during 1973. Gays and lesbians attended from as far away as Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Manitowoc and Wausau. Most meetings had forty to fifty people in attendance and were held in members’ homes.
The first official FVGA event was a Mardi Gras party held at a member’s home in Neenah with fifty-two people in costume. Other events/parties included a FVGA picnic in Menominee Park, Oshkosh, a Halloween party, and a Christmas gathering during 1973.
During the following year, 1974, the primary discussion topic at most FVGA meetings was the search for a gay/lesbian-friendly bar in the Fox Valley area. The Conway Hotel bar and Cleo’s Brown Beam in Appleton and Mr. Luckys in Oshkosh were notorious as gay hangouts. Several attempts to make these, and a few other bars, openly “gay-friendly” were not successful.
In October of 1974, after a FVGA meeting in downtown Appleton, a group of members walked into Doris’ Super Bar on College Avenue. Following a few discussions with owner, Doris, she was willing to give it a try. Doris’ became a very profitable gay/lesbian bar, and was subsequently sold to a gay couple and renamed the Lambda Lounge. Many FVGA meetings and parties were held at this establishment.
FVGA meetings became less frequent in 1975. The main objective of the group had been met. The last FVGA gathering was a Mardi Gras held at the Lambda Lounge on February 29, 1975.
Credits: History and description by NE Wisconsin LGBT History Project,
Paul "Cricket" Jacob and Lloyd Schaefer;
Web site design and layout by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: August-2010.