Monthly Archives: August 2015

“What We Didn’t Talk About”

Elliott Mackle 77 PhD

Elliott Mackle 77 PhD

In the days of his privileged youth in Florida, Elliott Mackle 77PhD knew some thoughts were better left unspoken. Ladies and gentlemen did not talk of sexual preferences, nor did they advertise their private pursuits. Though today’s social climate is markedly different, “Being gay is still not talked about much in polite society. But before the 70s, it wasn’t talked about – ever.”

Mackle, a career writer and Vietnam-era Air Force captain, is penning his life story with just this theme. A journey through the decades, the book will examine the changing perspectives of those around him – the initial secrecy, the early attempts at societal inclusion, the quiet and not-so-quiet protests, and eventually the acknowledgement of the rights of LGBTQ individuals in America.

Captain Elliott Mackle in his military days.

Captain Elliott Mackle in his military days.

From his influential platform as a prominent columnist, Mackle played a pivotal role in bringing about such important societal change on and off the campus of Emory University.

Finding his Voice – and Sharing His Love of Food

As a 14-year-old, Mackle needed release from daily stress. “My family was wealthy, powerful, and extremely dysfunctional,” he recalls. “I began writing to make sense of what was going on.” He got through high school and attended Vanderbilt University where he met his first mentor. To this point, praise for his writing was scarce. As a freshman he earned constructive criticism that shaped his ambition. On his first paper the instructor commented, “You can write. You’re not doing it here but you can do it.” Mackle accepted the gauntlet he’d been thrown, competed, and won the coveted freshman writing prize. “He coached me. Taught me to rewrite. I dedicated my first novel to him.”

Mackle's books are widely recognized.

Mackle’s books are widely recognized.

Military service in Italy, Libya, and California taught Mackle to run mess halls, bakeries, and other food establishments serving up to 2000 meals a day. At Beale Air Force Base, in California, the commander asked Mackle to write a column for the base newspaper about social events, personnel changes and the like. “It was a great starting point,” he recalls. “I got used to writing regularly for other people to read.”

After completing military service, and earning a doctorate in American Studies in Emory’s Institute of Liberal Arts, Mackle accepted a writing role with the State Department of Education at a time when providing proper nutrition was just coming to the forefront of school administration. With his background in volume feeding, his expertise was prized. “They could see that ‘ketchup as a vegetable’ was coming, and our job was to educate families about better choices.”

After New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne began reviewing restaurants, a trend emerged and quickly spread. People wanted to read more and more about fine dining as well as less formal fare. A bit later, while Mackle was working for the state, the popular magazine Brown’s Guide to Georgia held a contest seeking a second restaurant reviewer – and Mackle won top honors.

In short order, Creative Loafing offered Mackle a regular food column. He began to sell freelance articles to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Travel and Leisure, Food and Wine and other esteemed magazines. Eventually, the restaurant reviewing slot at the AJC opened up. Mackle applied and was invited to report and submit a sample review. The deal was sealed when the features editor invited Mackle to share a meal. Instead of choosing a fancy Buckhead establishment, Mackle opted for a classic – Deacon Burton’s Soul Food restaurant in the Old Forth Ward where hoe cakes and fried chicken were on the menu. “The meal was nothing pretentious – just real,” he says of that pivotal meeting. “The editor handed me back my copy with ‘Bravo’ penciled across the top. He created the title ‘Dining Critic’ for my regular reviews and columns in the AJC.


In – or Way Out in the Press?

“I was not hired to be a gay columnist,” he says. Mackle worked with people who were gay, though few talked openly about it. One story assignment changed his public life.

At the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Project Open Hand Atlanta invited him to help promote a local edition of a new venture that had been founded in San Francisco to provide meals to people living with the disease. “Open Hand helps people prevent or better manage chronic disease through Comprehensive Nutrition Care™,” the organization states, “which combines home-delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life.” Mackle worked the program for a week and wrote about it as a full feature. Without quite realizing it, Mackle had told his readers that he was a gay man. A top editor commented that he’d “come out in the paper.”

At this critical professional juncture, Mackle faced a choice. Retreat to neutral ground, or realize the potential in his hands. “Because I was a known figure, I knew there was value in saying I am gay,” he says. “People used to say, ‘I don’t know any gay people.” To that I’d say, ‘You sure do. You’ve been reading me for ten years.’” For the first time, Mackle “felt free to talk about my life in public.”

The AJC backed Mackle’s efforts and put their sponsorship and publicity behind his work at Project Open Hand. “For a fund-raising luncheon featuring Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree, once the paper got involved, donations went through the roof,” he says. “The power was given to me to be an instrument of good for the LGBTQ community.”

Continuing his work to shed light on LGBTQ lifestyles, in recent years, Mackle has embraced oft-taboo subjects as an award-winning mystery novelist of such classics as It Takes Two, Captain Harding and His Men, and most recently Sunset Island (the third in the Caloosa Club Mysteries series).  To learn more about Mackle’s work, please visit here.


Sunset Island is Mackle's third book in the Caloosa Club mystery series.

Sunset Island is Mackle’s third book in the Caloosa Club mystery series.

In Praise of GALA

After earning his PhD with a dissertation on the creation of the image of Florida, Mackle observed and took part in transformative events. “One turning point came in 1992, with the founding of the Office of LGBT Life. The other happened in 1997 when two men were granted the right to hold a commitment ceremony at the Oxford Chapel,” he says. Mackle credits the Emory Alumni Board (then called the Board of Governors) for paving the way for such early progress. “These events made us visible in a way that couldn’t be ignored.”

A founding co-chair of GALA, Mackle reflects on the contribution the organization has made to Emory’s culture. “GALA is good for people and it is good for the university,” he says. “If someone is scared, whether a cafeteria worker, a first-year student or a closeted professor, GALA is there for them. This is the Emory family.”

Author Elliott Mackle 77 PhD is more than just a great writer: he is a passionate dog lover who earned top national competition prizes for his miniature schnauzers.  Shown here is Grand Champion Orleans' Viennese Sachertorte. "Her call name is Sugar. In the win photo, we were named Select Bitch, meaning second best female in the breed, in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show in Orlando in 2012."

Author Elliott Mackle 77 PhD is more than just a great writer: he is a passionate dog lover who earned top national competition prizes for his miniature schnauzers. Shown here is Grand Champion Orleans’ Viennese Sachertorte. “Her call name is Sugar. We were named Select Bitch, meaning second best female in the breed, in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show in Orlando in 2012.”

–Michelle Valigursky


Pink Ink & News

Rachelle Lehner’s daughter, Rylee, celebrated her 2nd birthday!


Happy Birthday Rylee!








For future Pink Ink & News submissions, please email Robert Malmborg at

Update from GALA NY

GALA-NY kicked off summer with our annual PRIDE Happy Hour.  The event took place on June 23rd at Boxers in Hell’s Kitchen.  The event was a resounding success.  We had about 20 people from various classes and schools, including 10 first time attendees to a GALA-NY event.

GALA-NY is always looking to better serve our members.  Consequently, with the help of the Emory Alumni Association, we have created a survey that will guide our future event planning.  The survey allows our members to tell us where, when, and what type of events you would like to see GALA-NY plan.  The link to the survey can be found here:

Finally, as most of you know, I will be transitioning the leadership of GALA-NY to Matthew Kerrigan 09B over the next few months as I assume a new position within the New York Chapter of Emory Alumni.  It has been both a privilege and honor to serve as GALA-NY chair for the past two years.  I have full confidence that Matthew will take GALA-NY to new heights over the next few years.


Brian Sperber 07C


GALA Summer Social Was A Really Cool Event!

Tin Lizzie’s Cantina at Emory Point was the place to be on July 30th as 40 of Emory’s alums, students and guests gathered in the bar for drinks, conversation and fun at the annual GALA Summer Social.  The great spread of Tex-Mex food was more than enough to keep the crowd drinking and eating for the two-hour party.  Live music rounded out the lively atmosphere of the event.

One aspect that makes GALA social events so interesting and successful is that we are definitely a diverse group.  Sharing our Emory LGBTQ experiences in a social setting always seems to bring us closer together, regardless of our diversity.  So, plan on joining your fellow LGBTQ alums and students for our next social.  You’ll have a great time – and meet some really interesting people!

Next up on the social calendar is our Annual Blue Jean Brunch at Homecoming.  Saturday, September 26th, is the date, beginning at 11:00 AM, in the Winship Ballroom of the Dobbs University Center.  Traditionally our largest social event of the year, the Blue Jean Brunch also serves as a fundraiser in support of the GALA Leadership Award and the Office of LGBT Life.  Please click here to register.


Update from the Office of LGBT Life

LGBTLifeAfter a busy spring semester, the Office of LGBT Life spent most of the summer resting and planning for the upcoming fall semester. In June, the Office had the unexpected, but much welcomed, task of celebrating the marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. Emory community members from all around campus joined the Interim Director of the Office, Danielle Steele, in a toast to marriage equality, complete with rainbow cake! The Emory Report was on hand to take pictures and do a write-up of the festivities. Their report, which was posted on the official Emory University Facebook page, can be found here.

The Office of LGBT Life was also pleasantly surprised and honored to be named by as the most LGBT friendly university in the state of Georgia. This honor led to an interview of Danielle by WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station, in which she briefly spoke of the establishment of the Office of LGBT Life in 1991 and of the programs currently offered to Emory students. The interview can be found here.

Creating Emory
Staff of the Office of LGBT Life as well as numerous staff members from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion recently served as trainers for Creating Emory, Emory’s first year orientation program. Focusing on diversity, inclusion, values clarification, and sexual assault prevention, trainers completed several trainings in preparation to discuss these issues at length with current Resident Advisors and Orientation Leaders. These RAs and OLs will now have a series of conversations with each student of the incoming class about the Emory community of care we hope to create. Assistant Director of Regional Volunteer Programs and Emory Alumni Association’s Liaison to GALA, Latasia Woods, partnered with Danielle to train 17 Resident Advisors and Orientation Leaders. We look forward to a healthier, more informed, and more empowered Class of 2019!

This fall, the Office of LGBT Life staff will welcome two new graduate students and four undergraduate students to the team. Stay tuned to learn about all the great programs and projects they bring to campus this semester! The Office of LGBT Life has also welcomed five new Safe Space facilitators from across campus to facilitate this cornerstone program. We thank them for volunteering their time, skills, and knowledge to make Emory a safer campus for LGBT students, faculty, and staff!

Finally, we already have one event on the calendar for the fall semester. In collaboration with the Career Center and sponsored by Macy’s, the Office of LGBT Life is happy to announce the Out at Work Panel on October 26th at 6:30pm. We will welcome alumni from a variety of fields to chat with current students about the opportunities and challenges of being out in interviews, during internships, and at workplaces.If you have interest in being on the panel, please let Danielle know!

As always, alumni involvement continues to benefit our students. Contact Danielle Steele at if you are interested in being more involved with the Office of LGBT Life. Thank you!

2015 Emory Homecoming and Blue Jean Brunch

It’s that time of year again! Emory Homecoming is less than a month away! It will be held September 24-27. For more information about homecoming events, please click here.

During Homecoming, our annual Blue Jean Brunch will be held on Saturday, September 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Winship Ballroom in the Dobbs University Center.  All are welcome to attend. Registration is $15 per person in advance and $20 at the door. Students and recent graduates from the classes of 2014 and 2015 are admitted for free, compliments of GALA. Casual attire is the order of the day, along with great food & drink.  Click here to register. Free parking is available in the Peavine or Fishburne parking decks.

EHW 2014-08030 - Version 2-XL

2014 Blue Jean Brunch

Whether you are planning to attend the Blue Jean Brunch or won’t be able to join us, we hope you will consider joining the host committee by supporting any of the funds below.

  • GALA Legacy Fund. Complementing the GALA leadership funds, this fund supports a range of priorities for the Emory Office of LGBT Life. LGBT visibility and identity affirmation, as well as campus-wide education on sexuality and gender, are two such priorities.
  • GALA Leadership Award. First presented in 2009, the GALA Leadership Award ($5,000) is bestowed on an undergraduate student who has demonstrated positive leadership in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities at Emory. The scholarship recipient is announced annually at the Pride Awards in March.
  • Michael Aycock Leadership Development Fund. The Aycock Fund supports leadership opportunities and fosters the leadership potential of LGBT students. Leadership opportunities include participation in retreats and programs; national, regional, or state conferences; and networking events.
  • Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund. Created in 2010, The Adame Fund provides stipends to support leadership opportunities for LGBT students or allies each year. In keeping with the values of the fund’s namesake, Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund recipients will pursue opportunities related to physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, or environmental health.

Click here to donate to any of the funds above.

Sponsorship levels to join the host committee are as follows:

  • Lord Dooley’s Queer Friend – $500
  • Lord Dooley’s Champion – $250
  • Lord Dooley’s Mentor – $150
  • Lord Dooley’s Advocate – $50

Should you have any questions, contact Latasia Woods at 404-727-8412, or

We hope to see you at the Blue Jean Brunch on September 26th!

Letter from the Co-chair August 2015

Over recent months, our Steering Committee has, as always, been busy creating and cultivating opportunities for members to engage with GALA. We work hard to sustain our long-held traditions, such as the Blue Jean Brunch and Emory Cares, while also creating new initiatives and events, such as our Legacy Circle and our annual theater outing, now in its third year.

As Co-Chair of Emory’s LGBT alumni affinity group, it’s important to me that our engagement opportunities meet the needs and interests of our members. In this newsletter, I’ve included a link here to our member survey. Please take just a few minutes to fill that out. Your responses will have a direct impact on the work that we do. Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a program you’d like to see us work on, or feedback about how to improve the last event you went to. Whatever your experience with GALA to date, whether you’re a regular at our events or you’ve never connected with the group beyond receiving our newsletter, help us understand how we can best serve and include YOU.

You can also give your feedback in person by attending our monthly meetings. The meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month in the Miller Ward Alumni House. We always kick things off with a dinner and social at 6pm and then begin our business meeting at 6:30. All members are welcome to attend our meetings and give input into everything from our socials to our newsletter, our fundraising to our student advocacy initiatives.

If organizing isn’t for you, I hope you’ll reconnect with us during Homecoming for the Blue Jean Brunch on September 26th, our biggest event of the year.

In pride,

Aby Headshot










Aby Parsons 13G