Welcome to CQA

About us

CQA is the primary social, political, and educational organization for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered and questioning students at Columbia College, the School of Engineering, and Barnard College. Although we are officially an undergraduate group, we believe it is important to work closely with the LGBT groups from Columbia's graduate schools and to reach out to other campus organizations in the NYC area. Although we have our own programming, we also act as a resource and umbrella group for many of the smaller queer campus organizations. Membership is open to all.


From Student Homophile League to Columbia Queer Alliance: The story of the world's oldest gay student organization

The Columbia Queer Alliance (CQA) is the central Columbia student organization that represents the lesbian, gay, transgender, and questioning student population. It is the OLDEST gay student organization (GSO) in the world, founded as the Student Homophile League in 1966. The original organization had twelve members, who fought with the Columbia administration for a year before their organization was officially recognized. Lifelong gay activist Stephen Donaldson, who is commemorated today by a plaque in the lounge that bears his name in Furnald Hall, spearheaded the creation of the group. When the charter was finally granted on April 19, 1967, it caused such a stir that the New York Times printed the story on the front page, and the Columbia Spectator reported that some students believed that the creation of the group was an April Fools' joke! Various institutions such as Cornell University and New York University followed suit, causing a wave of gay and lesbian student activism the years leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion in June of 1969.

In the years hence, with a notable hiatus several years ago, the group has hosted the famous First Friday Dances, which at their inception were one of the very few places where college-age gays and lesbians could truly be themselves. Today our organization seeks to keep in time with the changing needs of our community, and we stand as heralds for the representation and protection of the LGBTQ community at this world-class university.