Bill Hoover, ’71

Amid the tremendous cultural change unfolding in the early 1970s, Bill Hoover, ’71, co-founded the Kent Gay Liberation Front with Dr. Dolores Noll and Gail Pertz, to foster a community for LGBTQ+ individuals and their supporters.

While studying sociology as a graduate student at Kent State, Bill Hoover, fellow student Gail Pertz and Dolores Noll, Ph.D., assistant English professor, came together to form the Kent Gay Liberation Front (KGLF) - now PRIDE! Kent, the longest continuously running LGBTQ+ student organization in the country. Despite the stigma surrounding the gay community at the time, the KGLF encouraged others to “come out, come out, wherever you are,” realizing that the increased visibility and power in numbers would further the mission to create a safe haven for gay individuals. Seventy people attended the group’s first meeting, but getting established as an organization on campus was an uphill battle that required courage, tenacity, many demonstrations and hundreds of speeches delivered by Bill and Dolores. Bill’s pioneering efforts in the area of gay rights led to massive changes not only on the Kent Campus and surrounding community but also throughout the country. He and his husband Lee went to Los Angeles to work in opposition of the Briggs Initiative, which sought to ban gay and lesbian individuals - and their supporters - from teaching in public schools. Hoover received the LGBTQ+ Center’s 2022 Alumni Award, and he continues his advocacy work today. Get to know Bill in his own words.

KSU: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
BH: When gay people and other minorities can simply live their life without having to spend a portion of it defending themselves from the haters still among us.

KSU: What is your favorite trait in others?
BH: The ability to listen and discuss differences.

KSU: What trait about yourself do you like least?
BH: I do not always confront others who need to be confronted.

KSU: Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
BH: Lee (my other half for 47 years), I cannot imagine life without him.

KSU: What is your favorite Kent State memory?
BH: So many! Meeting Dr. Dolores Noll, deciding we should come out and begin defending our right to be who we are and organize to defend our community.

KSU: What is your favorite journey?
BH: All the trips I made to get to the hundreds of pickets, protests and talks I gave to educate about and defend our rights.

KSU: What is your guilty pleasure?
BH: Playing cards and pool.

KSU: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
BH: Helping to make Kent State and many of its friends, students and professors supporters of its gay community.

KSU: If you could come back as one person, who would it be and why?
BH: Franklin Kameny (the grandfather of gay rights). He never gave up.

KSU: What part of your college experience most formed who you are today?
BH: The work we did in helping those struggling to overcome the hatred and bigotry that was directed at them by the haters and bigots.

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POSTED: Thursday, August 31, 2023 02:04 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 6, 2023 02:54 PM