LGBTQ at Wake Forest

Documentary Films

  • A Union in Wait. Directed by Ryan Butler. 2001. — A Union In Wait is a documentary directed by Ryan Butler that tells the story of Susan Parker and Wendy Scott’s union ceremony. In 1997, the couple decided they wanted to have a union ceremony at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel. The university denied their request. Susan and Wendy, joined by their church and many supporters of the community, joined together to fight the school’s decision. (Available Online)

University Publications and Records

  • Von Maur, Justice. An Oral History of Gay and Lesbian Activism at Wake Forest University 1985 to 2000. — A thesis paper written as part of the course History 392: Research Seminar. Using primary sources and research, Justice von Maur examines gay, lesbian, and LGBTQ activism on Wake Forest University’s campus in the 1980s and 1990s within the context of similar activism on other North Carolina campuses. Events mentioned include Senator Sam Nunn’s selection as 1996 commencement speaker and the controversy regarding a same-sex wedding in Wait Chapel that spanned 1999-2000.
  • Thomas K. Hearn III papers, 1983-2008 — In 1983 Thomas Hearn was named President of Wake Forest University, succeeding Dr. James Ralph Scales. He became president time when Wake Forest was poised to make big changes. During his tenure, he began what was then the largest building program on the Reynolda Campus since it had been constructed, guided Wake Forest to end its governing relationship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and become an independent school, established a Divinity School, helped Wake Forest become a leading school in technology with the laptop program, and hosted two presidential debates in 1988 and 2000. During his presidency, Susan Parker and Wendy Scott were denied having their union ceremony in Wait Chapel on Wake Forest University’s campus. Many documents in this collection reference the controversy. He was president from 1983 to 2005.
  • Office of the Chaplain, Edgar Douglas Christman and Jean Sholar Christman Papers — Edgar Douglas Christman was a Wake Forest University alumnus (1950, 1953 LS) and long-time University Chaplain. Christman served as Baptist Campus Minister (1955-1959, 1961-1969), Assistant Chaplain (1961-1969), and Chaplain (1969-2003). Jean Sholar Christman was a Wake Forest University alumna (1951) who was a teacher as well as an active member of the Wake Forest College Club (later University Club). This collection contains biographical and family materials for both Edgar and Jean as well as records of the Office of the Chaplain, including chapel, memorial service, and preaching materials, course materials, and faculty and office materials. Activities are documented with audiovisual materials, awards, biographical materials, certificates, clippings, course notes and papers, meeting minutes, memorandums, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, preaching and Sunday School notes, programs, reports, and subject files. Christman was Chaplain when Wendy Scott and Susan Parker requested to hold their union ceremony at Wait Chapel, and therefore materials in this collection reference the controversy surrounding this.
  • Academic Departments Records, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies — The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) department at Wake Forest University offers interdisciplinary courses that examine and analyze cultural, biological, political, and social constructions of femininity and masculinity. The department first offered an interdisciplinary minor beginning in 1983, as Women’s Studies, and began expanding in the 1990s. Collection materials (1984-2000) include course listings, and materials memorandums, symposium agendas, department newsletters, and two volumes of bean, a literary journal supported by the department.
  • Gay Straight Student Alliance (GSSA) (RG 8.22) — This collection contains materials documenting GSSA’s work and community members. Items include a petition from the Student Association for Equality, protesting Wake Forest University’s decision to deny a same-sex union from occurring on campus, newspaper clippings describing the controversy, a timeline about the GSSA, award plaques, a t-shirt, and other resources and brochures offered to students.
  • LGBTQ Center — WFU’s LGBTQ Center is the campus location where students, faculty, staff, and alumni connect for resources, services, education and leadership programs related to gender identity and sexual orientation. The LGBTQ Center was established in 2011 to service the need of LGBTQ students at Wake Forest. The LGBTQ Center Records in the university archives contain documents pertaining to Wake Forest’s LGBTQ Center. Materials include news clippings, correspondence, flyers, and materials.
  • Old Gold and Black — The Old Gold and Black is the student-run newspaper of Wake Forest University, named after the school’s colors. The newspaper was founded in 1916 and is published every Thursday with the exception of school holidays and exam weeks. It is comprised of four main sections: news, opinion, sports and life. Each section is managed by an editor and assistant editors. They are all under the leadership of an editor-in-chief and managing editors for print and online. News, life, and opinion pieces discuss LGBTQ life and culture, especially beginning in the 1990s.
  • Sheedy, Rachel. “Faculty endorses new stand on gays.” Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest University), April 15, 1993.
  • Stuckey, Ken J. “Students, faculty to march in D.C. for gay rights.” Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest University), April 22, 1993.
  • RAW: Reality At Wake MagazineRAW: Reality At Wake is the “Unofficial Guide to Life at Wake Forest.” Created by students of the university in 1989, its aim is to write from the perspective of real students and discuss academics and the school’s social life and culture.
  • The Student — The Wake Forest Student began in 1882 (when the University was still Wake Forest College). No issue or contribution copyright renewals were found for this serial. The name shortened to “The Student” somewhere around 1930. The magazine’s current successor is known as “3 or 4 Ounces”.
  • Wake Forest MagazineWake Forest Magazine is a feature publication of Wake Forest University. This awarded-winning magazine was originally named Wake Forest Alumni News when it was initially published in 1928. The name evolved through the decades as Wake Forest College Alumni News, Wake Forest: The University Magazine, Wake Forest University Magazine, and most recently, Wake Forest Magazine. The March 2000 issue of the magazine pays special attention to LGBTQ rights as many essays and articles reference Susan Parker and Wendy Scott’s request to have a unity ceremony in Wait Chapel.
  • Davis, Sharrika D. “Having Pride: Improving the Campus Climate for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students at Wake Forest University, Main Campus.” Thesis. Wake Forest University, 1998.
  • Dawkins, Nicola. “Success of Two Support Groups in Meeting the Needs of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students at One Private, Southeastern University: Confidentiality vs. Visibility.” Thesis. Wake Forest University, 1994.
  • “Dr. Thomas Hearn’s Favorite Positions.” Jambalaya (Wake Forest University), vol. 3, 1993.
  • “Hearn vs Creech: A comparison of our Fearless Leaders.” Jambalaya (Wake Forest University), vol. 3, 1993.
  • “Mother So Queer: A Queer History of Wake Forest University.” — Mother So Queer is an interactive, online exhibit curated by Dr. Angela Mazaris’ Queer Public Histories class during the Fall 2015 semester. The exhibit contains full length interviews conducted by past and current students, segments from interviews curated by theme, and a timeline of Wake Forest’s LGBTQ History.


  • Sandra Boyette, interviewed by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, December 5, 2014, transcript.
  • Histories of Wake Forest University Oral Histories — The History of Wake Forest University Oral Histories collection (2013-ongoing) consists of audio and video interviews conducted by Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s Special Collections & Archives and other university departments and programs. Topics discussed in the interviews include the Wake Forest alumni and student experience, campus social life and community, and the academic life of faculty and staff. Special thematic topics have focused on WFU Global Programs and Services, the LGBTQ community, and women scientists at Wake Forest.
  • LGBTQ Oral History Interviews — The following page contains 15 interviews of Wake Forest alum who are a part of the LGBTQ community. Participants were interviewed by students in Dr. Angela Mazaris’s classes from Spring 2012 and Fall 2015. Dr. Mazaris is the Director of the LGBTQ Center and Part Time Assistant Teaching Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Books in Special Collections

This list is not comprehensive. Please view our catalog for more LGBTQ books.

Local Publications

  • Winston-Salem Journal — During the controversy surrounding Wake Forest’s denial of hosting a same-sex union ceremony in Wait Chapel, the Winston-Salem Journal covered this issue in many articles in 1999, especially through September and October of that year. There were also Letters to the Editor concerning this controversy.
  • Janssen, Mike. “Wake Forest University faculty committee report on WFDD conflict, 2000.” Current (Washington, D.C.), Feb. 2, 2000. — This article details the conflict between Wake Forest University and WFDD radio surrounding the university’s denial of hosting Susan Parker and Wendy Scott’s union ceremony in Wait Chapel. The details leading up to the controversy are covered, followed by a detailed report on changes that both WFDD and Wake Forest University made following the conflict.
  • “Same-sex Ceremony OK, Wake Forest Chaplain says.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), Oct. 8, 1999.
  • “Wake Forest chaplain plans lesbian wedding.” High Point Enterprise (High Point, NC), Oct. 8, 1999. Permalink.