History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Organizations - Social



Summer 1978

(Primarily men)



GAMMA started as a sports group playing touch football along the lakeshore in the summer of 1978. They had a celebratory dinner that fall, and the following year also took up social and competitive volleyball inside a gym at UWM. The group quickly become a combined social and sports organization, establishing traditions such as camping, biking and rafting trips; an early September Corn Roast; cruises on the Iroquois cruise boat; rollerskating; etc.

The genesis of the name has long been questioned. In its early years some members said it might have stood for "Gay Athletic Milwaukee Men's Association"-- but that has long been in contention, and is certainly not 'politically correct' when the organization continues to try to recruit women. However, despite the organization's best efforts, it has always been a battle to try to get women to join: while 2 or 4 lesbians might join one year, typically they would not remain members long, as the combination of lack of events focused toward women, and lack of other women also participating, worked against those recruitment efforts.

Some say the average age of a member has increased: older members seem to remain, but there is not a huge influx of younger members. And, the focus of events has shifted somewhat over the years, more towards social activities and fewer athletic ones. Even volleyball, an old mainstay during the group's first 20 years, is done less often now. Still, the group continues to sponsor both sports and social activities each month: during the warmer months, biking, camping and hiking are popular, while during the colder months snow skiing and other physical events are pursued.

Thus, the organization has remained remarkably healthy and vibrant as it approaches 30 years old. The number of activities continues to be healthy, with the typical monthly activity calendar in 2005 and 2006 still showing 10-15 events a month. And 2006 saw its 25th or 26th year holding an annual corn roast on the Sunday after Labor Day. All indications are GAMMA will still be going strong when its 30th anniversary rolls around in 2008.

Boat Cruises
Corn Roasts
20th Anniversary


Membership dues notice, 1985

Windy City Chorus appearance



Volleyball posters and ads:

  • 1st one
  • 2nd one



Rollerskating flyers and ads:

  • 1982
  • 1984

Boat Cruises


Boat Cruise flyers and ads:

  • Cruise III, 1982
  • 1985 Cruise

Cruise videos


View video clips of 1983 cruise:

Corn Roasts


Corn Roast flyers and ads:

  • 1985 Ad
  • 1985 Flyer
  • 1985 Poster

20th Anniversary


View the 20th Anniversary program, November 1997
(1.9 MB PDF)

OR view individual images of 20th Anniversary program:

  • Dedication
  • 20 Years of Fun
  • Are We Having Fun Yet?
  • Eating Out
  • Past Presidents

Credits: design and arrangement by Don Schwamb,
with materials contributed by Don Schwamb, GAMMA and Michael Holz.
Last updated: October-2006.