Category Archives: news

GALA Advocacy Spring 2018

GALA had an interest in two Georgia General Assembly Senate bills, neither of which passed the House, which is required for a bill to become a law. SB 373 The Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crime Act proposed extending crime penalties based on the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Georgia is an outlier among the states for not having such a provision. The bill was first introduced with a different purpose but was replaced with the Hate Crimes substitute in a House Judiciary Committee after it passed the Senate and came over to the House. The bill received no further action in the House. 

The second bill created permissions and protections for child-placing agencies which discriminate against LGBT+ people wanting to adopt children or be foster parents. Discrimination would be justified by “sincerely held religious beliefs”. GALA wrote a letter asking Governor Deal to veto the bill based on the 1st and 14th amendments, the weakness of the religious beliefs argument, potential financial harm to Georgia and Georgia’s citizens, and basic justice and fairness withheld from a single minority group. It is not constitutional to wall off a disfavored, disenfranchised minority and deny them equal protection of the law without a compelling scientifically provable reason. There is not a preponderance of evidence that LGBT+ parents are significantly inferior parents. Additionally, a statue should not deny aggrieved parties the right to redress their grievance with due process as specified in the 5th and 14th amendments.

 The purpose of law is to dispense justice. Inclusion, love and family are central to identity and happiness, and should not be denied to any person or group without justification that passes a high bar. The General Assembly operates on a biennium calendar, meaning Representatives and Senators are elected every two years. Bills not passed the first year are carried over to the second year, but all bills not passed at the end of the second year can no longer be acted upon unless reintroduced in the next elected General Assembly. As “religious freedom” is a high priority for conservatives and discriminating against LGBT+ people seems to be touted as fundamental to “religious freedom,” it is likely a similar bill will be introduced next year.

Submitted by Maury Weil 68C

Emory GALA marches in Pride Parade in October 2017.



Office of LGBT Life Update

The Office of LGBT Life is basking in the quiet of finals time here at Emory. With the Spring semester closing and the ’17-’18 academic year in the rearview, we are inhaling and preparing for the deep breath of reflection afforded to us in the (relatively) calm summer. As we reflect, we are reminded of the busy spring 2018 full of programs and events.

In February, the office staff – along with the Center for Women (CWE) and the Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement (RACE) staffs – hosted International Coffee Hour, connecting with dozens of international students. Just a few weeks later, we hosted the Annual Pride Awards, celebrating the accomplishments of graduating LGBTQ students and active community members. Complete with remarks from Emory University’s President Claire Sterk, the Pride Awards was a huge success.










Later in March, the office supported OUTLaw, the LGBTQ affinity group in the Emory Law School, at their Out in Law networking event – connecting students to LGBT attorneys and alumni. Danielle Bruce-Steele, our director and that of ELLS (Emory LGBTQ Legal Services), shared remarks at the ELLS Launch Party at the end of March. A partnership with Emory Campus Life and the Emory Law School, ELLS will offer pro-bono legal assistance to LGBTQ folks in the Atlanta area! Learn more about ELLS here.

Like it is for many others in student affairs, April was a whirlwind of a month. The office, CWE, and RACE hosted a Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC) Brunch, fostering a sense of community and identifying the needs of QTPOC folks at Emory. To close out this year’s Queer Discussion Group (QDG) experience, we held an end of year gathering a few weeks later, inviting all members and facilitators of the 10 QDGs to enjoy food and fellowship.

Culminating a semester of curation, collaboration, and persistence, we celebrated the opening of Stepping Out of Line: Exploring LGBTQ Activism at Emory. This exhibit was co-curated by our student staff member, Jackie Veliz 18C, and other members of the Rose Library. We hosted an end of the year reception and guided curator tour complete with alumni, staff, and students.






To close out April, winners of the Dr. Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund – Jackie Veliz 18C and KJ Lewis 19T – grabbed lunch with Dr. Adame and our coordinator, Natalie Turrin. With support from the fund, award winners traveled to Mexico to engage in research and to Maine to attend a conference on podcast production.








The Office of LGBT Life is thrilled about this year’s commencement season! Earlier this semester, Natalie Turrin successfully defended her dissertation, and will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Congratulations, Natalie!

Looking ahead, on June 5th we will host our colleagues from across Georgia who engage in LGBT advocacy work at higher education institutions. We look forward to growing, learning, and connecting as we refocus for the summer and plan for the 2019 academic year!

Pink Ink & News

Nowee Shehab 16C

Nowee Shehab 16C

Nowmee Shehab 16C was honored as the 2016 Marion Luther Brittain Award recipient. The Marion Luther Brittain Award is presented each year to a graduating student from any academic division of the University who is considered to have performed the most significant, meritorious, and devoted service to Emory University. The Brittain Award is generally acknowledged to be the highest honor given to a student by Emory University. Click here to read the full article.

Brian Tolleson, Owner of Bark Bark Media, was honored with the Champion for Equality Award by Georgia Equality. Brian was the first person in the Film & Television Industry to speak out against HB 757 and has made numerous media appearances, attended lobby days and wrote guest editorials on behalf of Georgia Equality.

Lynne Huffer, Emory’s Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, was honored as the 2016 recipient of the George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Click here to read the full article.

Danielle Steele, formerly Interim Director of the Office of LGBT Life & Center for Women at Emory, has accepted the permanent position as Director of Belonging and Communities of Justice and the Office of LGBT Life.

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 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

Letter from Co-Chair – President Wagner visits GALA Steering Committee Meeting

Like most alumni affinity groups, GALA serves as a social and professional networking outlet for its members. Our summer and winter socials, spring theater outing, and monthly meetings are valuable ways for LGBTQ alumni to connect with one another.

What makes GALA different from most groups of its kind, however, is its involvement in campus-based advocacy. In the past 5 years, GALA has protested Chik-Fil-A on campus, supported the efforts of Freedom at Emory to grant financial aid to undocumented students, publicly opposed the Candler School of Theology’s decision to present anti-gay church leader H. Eddie Fox with a Distinguished Alumni award, and, most recently, lobbied the President to request that Emory oppose discriminatory statewide legislation.

In October, the GALA Steering Committee wrote to President Wagner to ask that Emory take a public stand against so-called religious freedom bills that threaten to erode rights for LGBTQ Georgians. After exchanging emails throughout the fall semester, we invited President Wagner to join us for our January meeting. We were delighted when he, along with Jerry Lewis, Sr. vice President for Communications and Public Affairs; Sarah Cook, Sr. Associate Vice President for Emory Alumni Association; Cameron Taylor, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs; Evan Goldberg, Special Assistant to the President; and Jessie Arnidis, Director of Development, Campus Life and Athletics, agreed to attend our meeting and engage in a dialogue with us regarding Emory’s stance on these legislative initiatives. Our conversation with the President and his colleagues was engaging, informative, respectful, and enlightening, and we were thrilled to learn that Emory has indeed joined Georgia Prospers, a coalition of businesses and organizations that oppose discriminatory legislation on the grounds that it’s both unethical and bad for business.

As alumni, we see it as our responsibility to hold our alma mater to the highest standards of accountability and ethical engagement, particularly when it comes to matters of access, equity, and inclusion. Emory does not exist in a bubble; as an employer and an institution of higher learning, we are part of Atlanta’s community and a landmark of which Georgia should be proud. We therefore applaud President Wagner’s decision to join Georgia Prospers and send a clear message to our state legislature that LGBTQ students, employees, and alumni are valued at Emory. Furthermore, we are grateful that President Wagner and his colleagues took the time to sit down and talk with us at length about issues that are critical to GALA’s members, and we look forward to building a similarly mutually supportive and transparent relationship with his successor.

If you’d like to get involved with GALA’s advocacy efforts, please join us the second Tuesday of every month at 6pm for dinner and our monthly meeting in the Miller Ward Alumni House.

In pride,

Aby Headshot










Aby Parsons, 13G
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Pink INK and News

The Reverend Joshua Morgan Noblitt 04T, Minister of Social Justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, is set to throw his hat into the ring to run for the open State House seat that will be available when State Rep. Margaret Kaiser steps down to run for mayor. If elected, he would be the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia legislature.

WaterShed LogoWatershed at Peachtree, owned by Emily Saliers 85C, has been voted 2015 Best Atlanta Brunch Restaurants by GAYOT, and has also been selected as one of the Best Celebrity Owned Restaurants by USA Today. Emily’s restaurant was one of the first to promote the farm-to-table movement more than a decade ago, and gets its name from an Indigo Girls’ song.

Scott Turner Schofield 02C is currently on the Bold and the Beautiful. With 30 million global viewers, it is the most watched TV show in the world. The acclaimed diversity educator officially joined the cast of the CBS daytime soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, on May 8. The role will mark both Schofield’s television debut and the first time a transgender actor will play a major, recurring role on a daytime program.

Pride Logo

Cameron Coppala 16C has been elected as President of Emory Pride for 2015-2016. Cameron was the 2014 recipient of the GALA Leadership Award. Emory Pride is the undergraduate LGBTQ and Ally organization dedicated to creating a safe, inclusive, and accessible campus for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Their mission is to to provide Emory students with opportunities to engage in advocacy, education and social interactions to create a stronger and more inclusive queer and allied community. Other members of the Executive Board of Emory Pride include: Vice President of External Affairs: Anthony Chau 18C; Vice President of Internal Affairs: Duy Nguyen 17C; Secretary: Margee Quinn 16C; Treasurer: Ana Beain 16C; and Publicity Representative: Katya Miranda 18C.

Danielle Steele has been appointed Interim Director of LGBT Life and the Center for Women. She has served as Interim Director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life since last June. In this joint role, Danielle will continue to strengthen the programs, services and initiatives for both LGBT Life and the Center for Women. In other big news for Danielle, she and Keisa Bruce were married in Washington, D.C. in Meridian Hill Park on July 17th, 2014.

How I shed picAlonquin Books has published a memoir, How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood, by Jim Grimsley, Emory Professor of Practice in Creative Writing . Jim’s first novel, Winter Birds, won the 1995 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second novel, Dream Boy, won the American Library Association GLBT Award for Literature (the Stonewall Prize), and was a Lambda finalist. His third novel, My Drowning, was released in January 1997 by Algonquin Books, and for it he was named Georgia Author of the Year. His fourth novel, Comfort & Joy, was a Lambda finalist. A fantasy novel, Kirith Kirin won the Lambda in the science fiction and horror category for 2001. He has published short fiction in The Ontario Review and Asimov’s, and his stories have been anthologized in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 16, Men on Men 4, Men on Men 2000, and Best Stories from the South, year 2001. Boulevard, published in 2002, was again a Lambda finalist in the literature category, and won Jim his second Georgia Author of the Year designation. His novel, The Ordinary, a science fiction novel published in 2004 by Tor Books, won a Lambda in the science fiction/fantasy/horror category.

Ryan B. Roche 03Ox 05C has completed his term as President of the Oxford Alumni Board, and will be back in the saddle with the Steering Committee of GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni. Ryan also serves as co-chair of the Auction Committee of the Human Rights Campaign-Atlanta, and is on the Board of the Atlanta Pride Committee, Inc.
Dr. Elliott Mackle 77G continues to receive accolades for his most recent novel, Sunset Island. His first novel, It Takes Two, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award as Best Gay Mystery of 2003. Elliott was the first co-chair and a founder of GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni. Elliot was also the former dining critic for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a longtime Creative Loafing columnist.

Out in BusinessRenee Weese 02 EMBA and Markbradley Kitay 14B were panelists at the “Out in Business” networking event on April 16 at Goizueta Business School. Over 50 students and alumni attended. Renee is a financial planning consultant with the Minerva Planning Group. Markbradly is an Associate Business Analyst at Ernst and Young in Atlanta

Dr. Aby Parsons 13G, Director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was recently honored by the University with two awards, The Outstanding Staff Performance Entrepreneurship Award celebrates staff who best exemplify the values and approach of the strategic business operations framework, and is given in recognition of efforts that impact a department or unit. The Georgia Tech Residence Life Cornerstone Award honors Aby for establishing partnerships between the LGBTQIA Resource Center and Housing and serving as a resource and support to housing students and staff.

GALA Advocacy Supports Students

GALA’s Mission Statement includes two important goals: “support and advocate for a diverse and non-discriminatory working, living and learning experience at Emory” and “advocate for issues of importance to the larger LGBT community.” As an Emory Alumni Association Affinity Group, the GALA Steering Committee has taken on several issues of advocating for current and future students at Emory. To date, the issues which GALA has advocated for have all had positive, meaningful outcomes for the campus environment.

Starting in 2011, students and alumni began a discussion on the values of Chick-fil-A and its owner Dan Cathy and what it meant to be home of the oldest campus Chick-fil-A. Over the course of the next year, our community and allies came together to make a stand. GALA wrote a letter to President Jim Wagner in August of 2012, urging the university to sever ties with a corporation who actively supported LGBT discrimination. Members of the Steering Committee also attended a protest outside Cox Hall.

During the same month, GALA also wrote to Dean Lawrence Benveniste of Goizueta Business School urging them to change the location of a mandatory student retreat held at WinShape Foundation. WinShape was founded by Truett Cathy and assisted Chick-fil-A’s harmful campaigns against LGBT people. During the Spring of 2013, the University announced that Chick-fil-A would no longer be a part of Emory’s food court in the next academic year. And starting in 2013-14 academic year, Goizueta no longer used WinShape’s campus for mandatory student retreats.

However, the raising up of homophobic values did not stop with the removal of Chick-fil-A. In the fall of 2013, the Candler School of Theology awarded the “2013 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Church” to Eddie Fox. Fox is known for his anti-gay views, which he has preached for nearly half a century. GALA Steering Committee passed a motion and wrote a letter to Dean Jan Love to rescind the award, make a public statement of Candler’s values, and rewrite the award criteria.  Dean Love responded with a declaration of support for LGBT people and initiated the process to change the selection criteria.  However, the award was still given to Eddie Fox, in absentia. This prompted students and alumni from several of Emory’s schools to rally in protest at the awards ceremony.

The spring semester of 2015 has been very busy for Emory Students and GALA alike. Fire Chief Kevin Cochran was fired from his position by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in January due to his publishing of an anti-gay book. Citing the safety of Atlanta employees and citizens, Reed indicated Cochran’s book caused doubt that he would treat LGBT people indiscriminately. While there is still a case pending in federal court, GALA quickly wrote a letter of support to Mayor Reed for upholding the City’s commitment to non discrimination.

In February, GALA again wrote to President Wagner in support of a student initiative. This time, displaying the qualities of allyship, GALA signed on to Freedom at Emory’s call for public disclosure of admissions and financial support for undocumented students at Emory. With support from over 80 professors, several Alumni groups, and numerous students, Freedom at Emory secured scholarships for incoming undocumented students. The initiative working to ensure the University changes its policies to clarify that Emory accepts and will support undocumented students.

As the battle moves forward to allow acts of exclusion and discrimination justified by religious beliefs, the co-chairs of GALA penned in March an informative article, which was published in the Emory Wheel to raise awareness of the issue.  While the bill is currently static, it will still be passable starting in January, when the second half of the biannual Georgia General Assembly reconvenes.

GALA will continue to take an active role fighting for the rights and acceptance of LGBT students at Emory and in Georgia. To date, each action that GALA has supported has made positive progress and we will utilize this momentum to continue the good fight.