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DAVENPORT – Decades before there were Pride celebrations in communities large and small, long before lengthy acronyms and “what are your pronouns,”  there was Pink Triangle Sunday.

It was 1982, and Jack and Joyce Wiley joined others at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Davenport in wearing the triangles. The small pink shapes were the symbols affixed by Nazis in the late 1880s to the 1940s, to the prison uniforms of everyone suspected of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

“The message was, we’re ALL wearing the pink triangle today,”  Wiley remembers. “That gay people have human rights just like nongay people. It was not a matter of anything other than a simple human right. Somebody’s sexuality was a personal private matter, not anybody else’s prerogative to decide.”

QCAD which stands for Quad Citians Affirming Diversity, along with a heart bearing the Progress Pride version of LGBTQ+ colors

QCAD was founded in 1990 by Joyce and Jack Wiley.

That February Sunday was the day LGBTQ activism in the Quad Cities was born. Jack Wiley, whose wife Joyce passed on in 2020, remembers Pink Triangle Sunday as the key inspiration for them to create Quad Citians Affirming Diversity (QCAD) – Out For Good, in 1990.

And while QCAD has been largely dormant for the last few years, it’s about to kick back in with a spring youth conference and renewed visibility. QCAD is also offering, for the second time only, the Joyce Wiley Scholarship, to benefit a student of any age who identifies as LGBTQIA and aims to attend any accredited higher education institution.


Son’s experience also inspired QCAD

When the Wileys’ son Jason “came out” to them in 1987, Pink Triangle Sunday became even more significant to Jack and Joyce.  Their son told them how unwelcome he felt at Bettendorf High School, when his classmates began to “out” him and mock him.

“He found no support at school,” Wiley remembers. “He felt totally alone.  When he was a senior, he came out to the editor of the school paper, and she spread it all over that Jason was gay. It knocked him off his feet. He absolutely struggled to finish high school.”

Jason went on to find support and acceptance at the University of Iowa. But his parents were forever impacted by how he suffered, and they started holding supportive gatherings for youth who identified as “gay or lesbian” (the terms used at the time before LGBTQIA became known).

The group started meeting in the basement of the Unitarian fellowship, with the support of then-pastor Alan Egley.  Within a year, it outgrew the space, welcoming up to 30 youth and their parents for gatherings twice a week.

Joyce Wiley, founder of QCAD

The late Joyce Wiley and her husband Jack founded QCAD Out for Good in 1990.

QCAD continued to serve the community for decades under Joyce Wiley’s leadership, eventually moving  to Rock Island.

Among its contributions: a massive library of novels, literature and magazines once considered “the largest collection of gay and lesbian material from Chicago to Denver,” Jack Wiley remembers.

That collection has since been donated to Western Illinois University in Moline, where QCAD is now located.


School outreach, scholarship are new focus of QCAD

Joyce Wiley became known throughout the region for her work standing up for basic rights for LGBTQ+ people. QCAD’s website describes how Wiley appeared at City Council meetings throughout the Quad Cities, asking councils to pass basic civil rights ordinances. The group says Wiley was likely instrumental in the passage of housing protections for LGBTQ+ people by both Iowa and Illinois.

Wiley was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2017 and passed away three years later. Her passing, along with COVID and other groups’ greater involvement, have lessened QCAD’s visibility in recent years.

With Clock Inc. now considered the pivotal LGBTQ support organization in the Quad Cities, and The Project of the Quad Cities more involved in LGBTQ efforts, QCAD’s original role is no longer relevant, says current leader Mike Hetrick. For the past few years, QCAD has focused on resource referrals through its website, and honoring leaders of gay/straight alliances at area schools.

But QCAD is about to re-emerge. Hetrick says the group aims to revive a youth conference next year, offering panels and educational opportunities for high schoolers. It also hopes to offer the Joyce Wiley Scholarship annually and will be doing more fundraising.

Joyce Wiley Memorial Scholarship

The deadline to apply for the Joyce Wiley Memorial Scholarship is Sept. 15.

Jack Wiley has gone on to help found Quad Cities Pride in Memory, a new nonprofit devoted to preserving LGBTQ history in the Quad Cities.

The group affected “thousands of youth” over the years, Wiley said. He and his wife would hear from adults decades after they’d attended QCAD meetings.

“They wrote emails, they called, they broke down and cried and said, ‘Our Lives were saved due to you,’ “ Jack Wiley says. “’We had a refrigerator repairman in our home, around 2014 or 2015. He saw two QCA symbols on our refrigerator door. He looked at us and said, ‘You saved my life.’


“The effect was much more profound than we had ever thought would be possible.”

To learn more about QCAD-Out for Good, head to the QCAD Facebook page,  where you’ll also find a donation link. Click here to apply for the Joyce Wiley Scholarship for LGBTQIA students. Applications are due Sept. 15.