Outreach was formed in 1969 as the Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality formed a speakers' bureau to raise awareness. It set up a phone line for people who had questions about their sexuality or who needed health information.
According to an article in the February 2004 issue of Madison Magazine:
"One of the reasons so much got done in Madison so fast," remembers Ron McCrea, "was not just because Madison is liberal, but because the lesbian and gay community spent a lot of its time doing practical political work, running for office and making alliances." McCrea served as press secretary in Earl's administration and is now the city editor at The Capital Times. "We didn't waste any time marching in the streets."
Madison... has gone from clandestine basement meetings during the Dark Ages of the 1960s to the election of Tammy Baldwin. The progress is hard for some old-timers to believe.
"I was involved in other movements," says Ron McCrea. "I was involved in Democratic politics. I was involved in a newspaper strike and labor. I was against the Vietnam War. And I never, in any of these other endeavors, saw as much progress in my lifetime as I saw in this."
"We were flying without instruments," says Ron McCrea, who got involved not long after the Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality was formed. "Nobody had any guidebooks. Nobody had any literature. There were no gay studies, no queer studies. Everybody was improvising."
The MAHE formed a speakers' bureau to raise awareness. It set up a phone line for people who had questions about their sexuality or who needed health information, which was badly lacking.
And so, amid the throng of burgeoning movements gearing up for the 1970s, the door was pried ajar in Madison, which was on its way to becoming one of the most open cities in the nation.
(Written for Madison Magazine by Frank Bures, a freelance writer living in Madison.)
The group later became known as Outreach.
Article "How Gay Is Madison?"
(Madison Magazine, 2004)
Credits: initial page creation by Don Schwamb;
Last updated: March-2007.