Professor receives first LGBT achievement award

Penn State's Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equity (CLGBTE) award.

CLGBTQE Awards recognize individuals who strive to improve the climate for and who have made outstanding contributions to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community at Penn State.

Credit: Penn State

Penn State Greater Allegheny Associate Professor of History Douglas Charles received the first Academic Achievement Award from Penn State’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity (CLGBTE). 

The University-wide award recognizes outstanding achievement in research, teaching, and/or academic coursework. Nominations acknowledge meritorious faculty, staff and students whose academic achievements are LGBT-focused but also could acknowledge the achievements of LGBT people in any area of research, teaching and student scholastic engagement.

Charles was nominated by Instructor in Education Tahirah Duncan Walker, who wrote, “I nominated Dr. Charles because I think his work opens necessary public discourse on LGBTQ issues. His research contributions reflect Penn State's commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. In order to continue honoring this commitment, we must have dialogue that recognizes context and history. Dr. Charles' work ensures that such communication and discussion can take place.”

Charles has published two articles on the subject: "Communist and Homosexual: The FBI, Harry Hay, and the Secret Side of the Lavender Scare, 1943-61," in American Communist History 11:1 (2012): 101-124, and "From Subversion to Obscenity: The FBI's Investigations of the Early Homophile Movement, 1953-58," in the Journal of the History of Sexuality 19:2 (May 2010): 262-87.  He also has a book coming out this summer: "Hoover's War on Gays: Exposing the FBI's 'Sex Deviates' Program" (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, by September 2015).  In addition, Charles tweets daily "on this day" historical moments from the forthcoming book.

Walker added, “Dr. Charles' research on the FBI's persecution of citizens based on sexual orientation is an important component of understanding the history of gay rights and activism in the US.”

CLGBTE is an advisory group to the president of the University. The purpose of the commission is to improve the climate for diversity within Penn State by specifically addressing issues affecting the welfare of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members of the University community.

Charles was honored at the Penn State Lavender Graduation on April 17.