Letter from Co-Chair – Spring 2016

In addition to sponsoring social events, networking opportunities, and community service projects, GALA has continued to advocate for LGBTQ communities both at Emory and throughout Georgia. Recently, GALA has been working to ensure that the Office of LGBT Life receives adequate staffing, space, and resources as Emory’s Campus Life undergoes a reorganization (you can read more about this reorganization at http://dialogue.emory.edu/CASA2/). Our advocacy efforts included a Declaration of Support for the Office of LGBT Life that was sent to Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life. We were concerned that Campus Life administrators did not reach out to many stakeholders, including GALA, as they created an initial vision for the new Campus Life structure. We will continue to work with Campus Life administrators to make sure that Emory’s LGBTQ students are supported by an Office of LGBT Life that has dedicated space, sufficient staff, and adequate resources.

We have also been working to increase student participation in GALA activities, thereby creating a smoother transition from Emory student to active GALA alum. In order to increase student involvement, we strive to make GALA events affordable for students. When registering for GALA events, many of our alumni generously donate money to help offset costs for students. These donations are greatly appreciated, and any funds for student participation that remain after an event are saved to reduce student costs at future events.

We have one social event planned for this upcoming July, and we would love to see you there! We are partnering with the Emory Young Alumni group and other affinity groups to visit the High Museum of Art on Friday, July 15, 2016. In addition to visiting the art collections, you can also enjoy a live jazz concert as part of the High Museum’s Friday Jazz series. This event will be free for the first 100 registered attendees, and the registration link will be sent out soon.

We would also love to see you at one of our upcoming Steering Committee meetings. You are welcome to attend these meetings even if you have never participated in GALA before. The meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month at the Miller Ward Alumni House (a free dinner is served at 6pm and the meetings start at 6:30pm). The next two meetings are on June 14 and July 12.

In pride,

Scot S

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scot Seitz, 09C
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

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Letter from the Co-Chair November 2015

I started serving as GALA’s Co-Chair in August of 2015, and I am excited to continue working on behalf of Emory’s LGBTQ community. GALA had a busy fall semester that included the Homecoming Blue Jean Brunch, a volunteer event at Lost-N-Found Youth as part of Emory Cares International Service Day, and the distribution of applications for the 2016-2017 GALA Leadership Award. We also started a conversation with President Wagner to encourage him to publicly oppose Georgia’s proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). These events highlight GALA’s commitments to providing networking opportunities, serving our local community, and advocating on behalf of LGBTQ people at Emory and beyond.

As I start my two-year term as Co-Chair of GALA, it would be helpful to know how GALA can best serve your needs. We created a short survey to gather feedback about our events and initiatives, and you can take the survey by clicking here. We would love to hear your thoughts about previous and future GALA events and advocacy initiatives. Whether you regularly attend GALA activities or haven’t attended one yet, we would still appreciate your input!

You are also welcome to attend any of the upcoming GALA meetings. Our meetings take place at the Miller Ward Alumni House on the second Tuesday of every month, starting with a free dinner at 6pm (the meeting officially starts at 6:30pm). Our next two meetings will be held on December 8 and January 12. You don’t need to RSVP for the meetings. Just come hungry and feel free to share your ideas!

Finally, we would love to see you at our upcoming Holiday Social on Thursday, December 3 from 6:30-8:30pm at The General Muir (Emory Point). You can register for the event by clicking here.

Best,

Scot S

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scot Seitz 09C
Co-Chair

GALA Celebrates With Social Events

GALA’s annual Summer Social was a very cool event!  Originally planned for the backyard deck at the home of Jerry Lowery, the heat of late August drove the crowd of approximately 40 alums, undergrads and guests inside, taking shelter.

Undeterred, the party went on for hours.  Great conversation and fellowship were the order of the day, aided by scrumptious food and drinks.  The party was a great time to embrace ending summer as we began making plans for another academic year.

Also, on October 21st, GALA took to Cox’s Ballroom to celebrate our annual Blue Jean Brunch.  Every year during Emory’s Homecoming, GALA gathers to celebrate the diverse, unified and loving place that instilled in us not only academic excellence, but also excellence in morality, compassion, and justice for all people, regardless of background.  Over 30 Alums and students shared a great buffet with drinks.  Among the attendees was Emory’s new Provost, Dwight McBride.  Joining Emory just this past July, Provost McBride mingled with our crowd, highlighting how he is excited to work with Emory’s nine schools and colleges to promote a curriculum of academic excellence and inclusivity.

GALA’s Annual Theater Outing was held on February 8th at Actor’s Express.  This year’s show was Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning Angels in America, Part 1.    Over 20 GALA Alums and guests gathered for wine & cheese and sandwiches before the show.  There were two intermissions, so we kept returning to the table for more food and wine as the evening progressed.  It was a great outing!

Coming up on the GALA social calendar are the Pride Awards on February 28th.  After that, look for plans on another great Summer Social.

Out on Campus Spotlight with Sam Lopez

Sam Lopez is a current student at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory and the leader of the Queer/Trans Collaborative.

Neil Vasudeva is GALA’s Member-at-Large.

 

NV: Could you start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Rollins for your graduate degree?

SL: After graduating from Auburn with degrees in Microbiology and French, I spent several years in the workforce, including a year in Belgium as a Fulbright researcher. I decided that to further my career, I needed a Master’s degree. Rollins provides an opportunity not only to study at the intersection of my interest in infectious disease and social determinants of health, but also to network with public health professionals at all levels of the field.

 

NV: How has your Rollins experience been from an LGBT+ perspective?

SL: Rollins has been amazing. I went to a fairly conservative undergraduate institution, and have worked in some less than accepting environments. The general Rollins experience is not only accepting, but also celebratory of the diversity of human experiences represented at the school. While there have certainly been times where I’ve needed to “call someone out” for their words or actions, those have been the minority of my experiences.

 

NV: What challenges do you think LGBT+ students have faced during your time at Rollins?

SL: Two particular challenges come to mind. One is very public health related, which is the mentality that being gay is a vector for disease. It is frustrating to sit in classes where the example of a disease risk is “being gay”. The conflation of risky sexual behaviors with all sexual and gender minorities is one thing that the public health community needs to work on.

Another challenge that is faced not only at Rollins, but seemingly in large sections of the US, is people not recognizing the diversity of gender and sexual identities. As a queer Latina, I don’t appreciate when people ask a gay white man to speak for the entire LGBT+ community. Similarly, being treated as a token queer POC is problematic, as I certainly can’t speak for the experience of my classmates who are bisexual, polyromantic, etc.

 

NV:  How has your experience been leading and being a part of the LGBT+ student organization at Rollins? What hurdles have you faced as an organization (i.e. challenging administration, regulations/rules, etc.)?

SL: Generally, my experience of leading Queer/Trans Collaborative has been great. My fellow executive board members have helped shape impactful and fun programming for the Rollins community, and we’ve been able to bring to campus panels on topics such as research in WSW (women who have sex with women) relationships, student-led research in LGBT+ topics, and more. The Rollins administration has been generally receptive to the work that QTC does. There has been an element of feeling tokenized when being approached by other organizations to ‘collaborate’. Being approached to help cost-share an event does not automatically make the event inclusive. Not all organizations have been willing to put in the time and effort to do the seemingly little things to make events truly inclusive, such as ensuring the use of proper pronouns for all speakers, pointing out research limitations, or highlighting that the LGBT+ community is more than gay and lesbian individuals.

 

NV: What do you believe that Rollins could do to improve the LGBT+ student experience?

SL: One way to improve the student experience overall would be to have ongoing discussions with professors, students, and faculty that gender is not binary. It is an issue that has been discussed in panels and forums, but has not spilled over into the classroom. Other issues, such as domestic violence in same sex couples, the health impacts of discrimination, and intersecting identities are occasionally brought up, but are typically in the minority. Rollins is at the forefront of public health. If we are not challenging social norms and discourse in the classroom and in our research as students, we cannot hope for better health for ourselves or our communities. I don’t think it is out of malice that these things are overlooked, but out of the momentum of the status quo. Professors learned gender as binary from teachers who had learned it that way, and they will perpetuate it for the next generation of professionals. I am hopeful that in holding a mirror up to the institution, and saying “this can be different”, the status quo can be challenged, and eventually changed.

Alumna Spotlight with Jessica Oliveira

Jessica Dias de Oliveira is an alumnus of the Goizueta Business School’s BBA Program and a current Marketing Lead at GE Power in Atlanta, GA. She is an active advocate for LGBT+ folks who are out in the workplace.

Neil Vasudeva is GALA’s Member-at-Large.
NV: Could you start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Emory for your undergraduate degree?
JO:
I’m a 1.75 generation Brazilian-American immigrant. I lived in Baton Rouge, LA from the age of 2 until I left at 18 to attend Emory. As a high-achieving low-income high schooler I was awarded a full scholarship to Emory thanks to QuestBridge.
NV: How was your Emory experience from an LGBT+ perspective?
JO: The LGBT+ community definitely enhanced my experience at Emory. I attended the Office of LGBT Life’s open house my first week at Emory and joined Pride (the undergraduate LGBT+ club). I stayed active as a member throughout undergrad and my senior year I was treasurer of Pride. I met a lot of my queer friends in college through Pride and the office and am glad to say that they are some of my closest college friends that I still keep in touch with. A great array of students, alumni, and Emory staff always dropped by the Office of LGBT Life. I got to know so many people over the years including the person who referred me to Google! You never know who you’ll meet in the Office.

NV: What challenges do you think LGBT+ students faced during your time at Emory, and more specifically, Goizueta?
JO:
As LGBT+ students we were lucky that Emory is a relatively open, affirming place for us. I definitely realized this after hearing stories from LGBT+ coworkers who had attended LGBT-unfriendly religious schools where they did not feel comfortable coming out knowing that they could be expelled.

 

That being said, during my time at Emory 4-8 years ago, I remember an unidentified LGBT+ student being kicked out of an off-campus party being called homophobic slurs. I knew of a fellow student who was rejected by their family for coming out. We also had Chick-fil-A at Cox Hall.

 

As an LGBT+ student at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, I felt like I was one of a handful of out BBA students – hardly enough for a quorum of any kind. At the time, we had no out professors (that I knew of) and didn’t have any advisors in the career center that I could approach with my questions about companies’ openness to LGBT+ recruits.
NV:  How was your experience leading and being a part of the LGBT+ student organization at Emory? What hurdles did you face as an organization (i.e. challenging administration, regulations/rules, etc.)?
JO:
I was treasurer of Emory Pride my senior year. To my recollection, we didn’t face any hurdles as an organization. Danielle Steele was our fabulous advisor who helped us with any roadblocks we had.

NV: What do you believe that Emory could do to improve the LGBT+ student experience?
JO:
What I most wanted as a student was a queer mentor, preferably in the business world, that I could connect with and ask for advice. I highly recommend that GALA, the Alumni Association, the Office of LGBT Life and Goizueta team up to create a network of LGBT+ alumni that can be paired with LGBT+ students.

 

NV: What challenges have you faced being out in the workplace since you’ve started your professional career?

JO: I was very fortunate to join Google, a very publicly LGBT-friendly company, right out of college and led the Ann Arbor Gayglers, Google’s LGBTQ + Ally employee resource group. I’m very fortunate to say that I hadn’t had any negative experiences regarding being out in my workplace since I’ve started my professional career.

NV: You’ve been out in the business world for some time – do you have any advice to share with current Emory students who identify as LGBT+ on being out in the workplace?
JO:
I would highly recommend that students take a look at the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index to see how LGBT-friendly large companies are as a starting point.

 

If you’re interviewing with a large company you can ask your recruiter to connect you with an out employee who you can chat with to ask about their experience as an LGBT+ employee. If recruiters are well connected to their colleagues in Diversity and Inclusion, which should also sit under Human Resources, they should have no trouble with this request. I have had conversations with recruits considering Google looking for reassurance that the Google offices outside of California were also LGBT-friendly and I was happy to take 30 minutes out of my day to answer any questions they had.

 

If you’re interviewing with a small- or medium-sized business ask them similar questions to the criteria on the Corporate Equality Index to see if they have an equal opportunity policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, transgender inclusive health insurance, and an LGBT+ employee resource group.

GALA Celebrates With Social Events

GALA’s 2017 annual Summer Social was a wonderful event! Originally planned for the backyard deck at the home of Jerry Lowery, the heat of late August drove the crowd of approximately 40 alums, undergrads and guests to take shelter inside.

Undeterred, the party went on for hours. Good food and drink obviously contributed to the success of the event. However, great conversation and fellowship were the order of the day. The party was a great time to embrace the ending summer as we began making plans for another academic year.

Meeting again for fellowship, GALA took to Cox’s Ballroom on October 21st to celebrate our annual Blue Jean Brunch. Every year during Emory’s Homecoming week, GALA gathers to celebrate the diverse, unified and loving place that instilled in us not only academic excellence, but also excellence in morality, compassion, and justice for all people, regardless of background. This year we had a turnout of upwards of 30 people of all ages. Among the attendees was Emory’s new Provost, Dwight McBride. A recent appointment to Emory, Provost McBride mingled and greeted the crowd, speaking of how excited he is to work with Emory’s nine schools and colleges to promote a curriculum of academic excellence and inclusivity. Provost McBride’s 2017 summer arrival at Emory invites a sense of change and encouragement across the Emory community, and we are eager to see in which direction he will take our alma mater.

GALA’s annual Theater Outing was held on February 8th at Actor’s Express. This year’s show was Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning play, Angels in America Part 1. Over 20 GALA alums and guests gathered for wine, cheese, and sandwiches before the performance. During the two intermissions, the group continued to return to the table for more food and wine as the evening progressed. It was a fantastic outing!

Coming up on the GALA social calendar is the Pride Awards on February 28th. After that, look out for plans for another great Summer Social.

Office of LGBT Life Updates

 

The fall 2017 semester and beginning months of 2018 in Emory’s Office of LGBT Life have been chock-full of programs and events!

On Thursday, August 24th the Office of LGBT Life held its annual Open House, welcoming over 40 students, staff, and faculty members to the 2017-2018 school year. Filled with rainbow cake, exciting conversations, and plenty of laughs, the Open House was a great way to kick off the academic year.

To help celebrate Black Pride, the office offered MARTA cards for students interested in attending the Atlanta Black Pride Festival on Sunday, September 3rd. Just a few days later, the office supported “HireUs: Connecting a Diverse Workforce with Inclusive Employers Program”, a networking opportunity for historically underrepresented students to connect with employers with inclusive and diverse company cultures. The office also collaborated with the LGBTQ+ Grad Student Coalition to create the first ever Graduate Student Brunch – over 50 graduate and professional students attended, connected, and built community. Throughout the remainder of the month, the office staff worked with Emory Pride and the Queer Discussion Group facilitators to prepare and train them for the upcoming academic year.
In October, we were off to the races! On Wednesday, October 11, the office celebrated National Coming out Day with our “Out on Campus” event to which we invited LGBTQ+ identified students, staff, and faculty to connect, build community, and celebrate. Outfitted with rainbow cake, a photo booth, and interactive activities, the program welcomed over 40 students, staff, and faculty – many of whom signed up to have their information listed on the office’s “Out at Emory” virtual page.

Soon after on October 15th, the Office of LGBT Life and over 100 students, staff, friends, and community members (our largest contingency yet) participated in the Atlanta Pride Parade (see pictures below).  Outfitted in t-shirts designed by an Emory undergraduate student and singing along to pop music, Emory’s group had a blast!

On Saturday, October 21st, the office attended the Blue Jean Brunch, sponsored by GALA and the Emory Alumni Association, to connect and network with LGBTQ+ alumni and students. Just a week later, the office staff attended Emory Pride’s Annual Drag show, which featured a host of different acts and fantastic performances.

As the semester settled into itself, November brought some much needed calm. On November 20th, the Office of LGBT Life remembered our trans siblings who lost their lives to violence this year on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. With readings and poetry from trans students and allies, the event was a reminder of the role we all play in advocating for and supporting the rights of and consciously addressing the issues that face the trans and GNC communities.

With just a few weeks of classes left, the office hosted a World AIDS Day drop in event on Friday, December 1st. Folks were able to drop by, grab donuts and hot chocolate, and learn about resources offered in our community. The busy fall semester finished, the Office wrapped up its 12 Queer Discussion Groups, transitioned its six Federal Work Study students into the next semester, and prepared for an exciting spring 2018 semester.

As the new year began, full of snow days and purpose, the Office of LGBT Life’s staff set their sights on the spring semester portfolio of programs and events. With support of the J. Michael Aycock Leadership Development Fund, the staff led 10 students to the 30th Annual Creating Change Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force. While there, participants – staff included – connected with peers from across the country and learned strategies to better advocate for the needs of the LGBTQ+ community at Emory and locally.

Partnering with the Emory Career Center, the office again supported “HireUs: Connecting a Diverse Workforce with Inclusive Employers Program”. The Office was pleased to welcome back Bi/Pandemonium, a Queer Discussion Group that hadn’t met in the fall 2017 semester.

The Office and Emory Law also launched ELLS (Emory LGBT Legal Services), an organization created to provide pro bono legal assistance to members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Atlanta area. Born of the need to support queer and trans community members and Emory Law students’ desire to put their education to meaningful use, ELLS is a major accomplishment of the Emory community. Check out the official article on its launch here.

Understanding the importance of naming and advocating for the multiple identities of queer/trans folks, the Office held Queer Black Love, a conversation on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality on Valentine’s Day.

This month, the office is gearing up for the 2018 Annual Pride Awards, which will take place on Wednesday, February 28th in the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Preparing certificates, finalizing registrations, and stirring a buzz, the office staff looks forward to celebrating the contributions to the LGBTQ+ community at Emory and our amazing community members who continue to do great work. Featuring a pre-reception for graduating students and alumni, a ceremony to recognize student achievements, and a dessert post-reception for all attendees, the office staff is eager to connect and engage with current and former students. To register for the Annual Pride Awards, follow the link here.

With the Pride Awards and Spring Break on the horizon, Director Danielle Bruce-Steele and Emory’s Office of LGBT Life would like to extend their thanks to GALA for continuing to support the work we do within the community. Our success is due in part to all of your help!

Please contact Megan Pendleton at megan.pendleton@emory.edu if you are interested in being more involved with the Office of LGBT Life. You can also keep up-to-date with our activities through our Facebook page.

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Letter from the Co-Chair

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As we settle into 2018, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the importance of the work GALA does for both the Emory and the local Atlanta LGBTQ+ communities. Throughout the year, it is easy to get caught up in work, obligations and episodes of Will & Grace. However, today I reflect on GALA’s work during 2017. From our annual Pride Awards celebration to the creation of the Legal Clinic to volunteering with Lost-N-Found Youth, GALA has grown, and we continue to find new ways to represent Emory’s tireless commitment to equality for the entire LGBTQ+ community to greater Atlanta. Right around the corner is our annual Pride Awards celebration, on the evening of February 28th. First held on March 2nd, 1993, the Pride Awards gives individuals the opportunity to be recognized by their peers for their exceptional work. These awards celebrate the entire LGBTQ+ community and showcase the great work many at Emory do behind the scenes for equality. Students are awarded scholarships to help further their wonderful work within the Emory community, and graduating students and alumni are honored in the Lavender Graduation. Join us for an unforgettable evening, starting with GALA’s networking social with graduating seniors at 5:30, at the Miller-Ward Alumni House this upcoming Wednesday.As we settle into 2018, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the importance of the work GALA does for both the Emory and the local Atlanta LGBTQ+ communities. Throughout the year, it is easy to get caught up in work, obligations and episodes of Will & Grace. However, today I reflect on GALA’s work during 2017. From our annual Pride Awards celebration to the creation of the Legal Clinic to volunteering with Lost-N-Found Youth, GALA has grown, and we continue to find new ways to represent Emory’s tireless commitment to equality for the entire LGBTQ+ community to greater Atlanta. Right around the corner is our annual Pride Awards celebration, on the evening of February 28th. First held on March 2nd, 1993, the Pride Awards gives individuals the opportunity to be recognized by their peers for their exceptional work. These awards celebrate the entire LGBTQ+ community and showcase the great work many at Emory do behind the scenes for equality. Students are awarded scholarships to help further their wonderful work within the Emory community, and graduating students and alumni are honored in the Lavender Graduation. Join us for an unforgettable evening, starting with GALA’s networking social with graduating seniors at 5:30, at the Miller-Ward Alumni House this upcoming Wednesday.

The past few months have been jam-packed for GALA and we are continuing right through the rest of 2018! If you are interested in getting involved with us we are looking for volunteers with a passion for LGBTQ+ rights. I cordially invite you to join us at our next meeting March 6th at the Miller-Ward Alumni House. We start with dinner and mingling at 6 pm and kick off the meeting at 6:30. Hope to see you there!

Yours in Pride,

Ryan Rusiecki 13Ox15C

Co-Chair, GALA: Emory’s LGBT+ Alumni Affinity Group

Letter from GALA Co-Chair

Scot S

As my GALA Co-Chair term comes to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of GALA’s highlights from the past two years. I am most proud of GALA’s advocacy work. During the 2015-2016 academic year we encouraged Emory President James Wagner to stand up against the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a bill that was eventually defeated in the Georgia General Assembly. During the spring and summer of 2016, GALA communicated directly with Dr. Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, and his staff to ensure that the Office of LGBT Life would continue to exist and receive adequate funding after the reorganization of Campus Life. These are just two advocacy initiatives in which we have engaged during the past two years, and they stand on a strong foundation of advocacy work that GALA has spearheaded for almost a decade. We would love for you to join us as we continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights at Emory and beyond.

Another highlight of these past two years has been witnessing how GALA’s efforts directly benefit current Emory students. Our GALA Leadership Award recognizes student leaders who are working to positively impact LGBTQ+ communities at Emory. In addition to honoring these students, the award provides financial assistance that helps students continue to focus their efforts on supporting LGBTQ+ communities. There are also several other funds that were started by Emory alumni and that provide professional development opportunities for LGBTQ+ students and allies, such as the Dr. Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund and the J. Michael Aycock Leadership Development Fund (learn more at http://www.lgbt.emory.edu/resources/leadership_funding/index.html). These opportunities were not available when I was an Emory student, and I am grateful that Emory alumni continue to support LGBTQ+ students.’

The future of GALA is bright. There are many GALA staples that Emory alumni look forward to every year: the Blue Jean Brunch, our Emory Cares Day Project, our spring theater outing, and our summer and winter socials. In addition to these events, we are always looking to organize new and exciting opportunities for alumni to gather and support each other. Please join us at our next Steering Committee meeting and share your ideas! We would love to hear from you. Our next meeting is on June 13, 2017 at the Miller Ward Alumni House. A light dinner is served at 6pm, and the meeting starts at 6:30pm. We hope to see you soon!

 

In pride,

Scot Seitz

Emory College ‘09

Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT+ Alumni