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.

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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

Update From Office of LGBT Life

We wrapped the year up nicely here in the Office of LGBT Life! The second semester of this school year definitely flew by, but not without our slipping in some final programming!

In early April, the office’s professional staff participated in Emory Pride’s first Pride Faculty/Staff dinner. Along with several other out faculty and staff across Emory, we had the opportunity to connect with students, share our experiences, and offer guidance on navigating being out on a college campus.

To foster community among our Queer Discussion Groups (QDG), we hosted an end-of-year gathering in the office with food, snacks, and games. Over 25 people turned out, and almost a dozen signed up to be QDG facilitators next year! We are thrilled about how these groups are taking off!  (Picture Above)

As we prepared to close on a great year, we hosted Study Nights from reading day through the last day of finals, fully stocked with refreshments, coloring pages, and 2 dozen shades of nail polish!

During commencement ceremonies, we housed a regalia donation box, in collaboration with the First Generation Low-Income Partnership, in an effort to encourage students to return caps, gowns, stoles, and other pieces of regalia they don’t plan to use in the future.

Finally, we administered and gathered data on a needs assessment for the office, incentivizing with a chance to win one of ten $10 Barnes and Noble gift cards. Focused on understanding how we could better serve students, improve programming, and provide a more inclusive space, the needs assessment will help to shed light on our current practices. We will be sure to keep GALA up to speed on the results.

Looking forward, we are eager to begin planning and calendaring for the next academic year, and excited to have a bit of quiet time this summer to do so. As the DUC continues to undergo construction, we will keep everyone abreast of our office hours and any other updates via social media and email.

As always, 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. We would never be able to have such successful programming without your help! Please contact Danielle Bruce Steele at dmsteel@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.

 

Annual GALA Theater Outing

On March 26th, approximately 20 GALA alumni and friends gathered at Actor’s Express to view Matthew Lopez’s 2015 play, The Legend of Georgia McBride. As always, prior to the curtain, we enjoyed a light party of wine & cheese , snacks — and, of course, great fellowship.

The play is a hilarious comedy about a straight, married, young Elvis Impersonator who struggles to support his family. Encouraged by his wife, however, he very reluctantly finds a true path to prosperity by performing drag in a Floridian Dive Bar…and he’s really good at it!

Our group had a great time. We also learned about a Gay theater group named Gays for Plays (gaysforplays.com). This is a social group highlighting year round, local, LGBT theater. You can contact Warren Gump (97B) for more information.

Coming up on the GALA social calendar is our annual Summer Social. This year we will be guests at the home of alum Gerry Lowrey for a party on his deck. Don’t worry. If it rains or is too hot, we’ll just go inside. The exact date of the party is not yet finalized, but will be on a weekday evening in July or August. We’ll let you know when the registration page is available online.

And you should save the date of October 21st for our Annual Blue Jean Brunch during Homecoming. You don’t want to miss that!

Office Celebrates 2017 Pride Awards

The Office of LGBT Life held the Annual Pride Awards on Thursday, March 2, 2017, celebrating graduating LGBTQA students, acknowledging stand out members of the Emory community, and commemorating the campus wide protests that took place 25 years prior. The event, filling the Governor’s Hall of the Miller-Ward Alumni House, highlighted the contributions of 32 graduating students, a mix of both graduate and undergrads.

Student leaders who received support from the J. Michael Aycock Leadership Development Fund and Dr. Daniel D. Adame Student Leadership Fund were also recognized for their eagerness to explore issues affecting LGBTQ communities. GALA Leadership Award winner, Victoria Alarcon 17C, was recognized for her numerous contributions to Emory’s LGBTQ community through leadership and activism. The Office of LGBT Life also presented six other awards to various students, staff, and alums who have done considerable work to improve the experiences of LGBTQ folks in Emory’s community. The awardees are listed below:

2017 HONOREES

Outstanding Transgender Advocate Award
Everett B. Arthur, 17L
Student
Emory University School of Law

Outstanding Ally of the Year Award
Jill Camper
Associate Director for Student Life
Emory University School of Law

Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year Award
Marcel W. Foster, 17PH
Student
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health

Fierce Leadership Award
C. Holly Lewis, 17PhD, 19M
Student
School of Medicine

Sonia Chinai, 17C
Student
Emory College of Arts and Sciences
with LGBT fraternity and sorority members.

Alum of the Year Award
Gerry Lowrey, 81G
Alumnus