Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2014’

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LGBT at Work: Alumni Panel on Campus Life and Careers


I participated in a panel discussion on sexuality and career issues held earlier this week at the Multicultural House, sponsored by the Dean of Students Office and the Center for Career Development.

left to right: Andrew Spainhour ’93, Brad Johnson ’94, John Syme ’85, Heather McKee ’87 (photo: Shea Parikh ’16)

First, a nice dinner at Brickhouse Tavern with fellow out gay and lesbian panelists Andrew Spainhour ’93, Brad Johnson ’94, Heather McKee ’87 and organizers Becca Taylor ’06 from Dean of Students and Jamie Johnson from Careers.

Later, some dozen or so students sprawled on the couches of the Multicultural House while we four panelists perched on stools up front. We told what campus gay life (or the lack thereof) was like back in the day, how that felt then, and how it feels now to be talking with students openly questioning issues of sexuality rather than questioning (or not) secrets (closed or open) as in days of yore.

Each panelist talked about how issues around sexuality had played out in our early careers and choices, and our current ones. And we answered sharp questions from sharp students, about tokenization, social relations and legislation; about closets and pronouns and dreams.

“In light of Amendment One, do you feel like people should leave North Carolina?” one student asked, putting a fine point on a broad-ranging conversation about North Carolina politics.

“I think the only way to win is to stay and fight,” Heather serenely concluded after a a full and thoughtful response. (Happy side note: Heather married her classmate, U.S. Navy Capt. Jane Campbell ’87, on a Pearl Harbor Day visit to Hawaii in December!)

Have you ever considered, asked another student, going back into the closet for a career choice?

“I would never dream of going back to a place where I would have to hide,” said Andrew. Brad added a pithy note that the “pronoun game” many gay people used to play, and some still do, when talking about their personal lives at the office is, in a word, tedious. And disagreeable for any number of other reasons, we all agreed.

That said, I added that it’s never a mistake for anybody—gay, straight or in between—to err on the side of caution when sharing personal details in any professional setting. It’s a fine and shifting line to walk, between the world we  live in and the world we want to live in.

Bonus note: Becca offers for your consideration this current survey for LGBTQ alumni by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. “While it’s not coming from Davidson directly,” she says, “the information gathered on this survey could be very useful to us in the future.”


Springing Forward with Classical Public Radio WDAV: Spring Membership Drive 2014


I always like to volunteer for WDAV‘s fund drives, even though I tend to get nervous for the first few minutes. It’s a faster paced thing than, I don’t know, blogging.


“I was told there would be training!” I barked this morning at my pal Rodger Clark, the station’s director of development and corporate support. Rodger was running the laptop—nearly as authoritative a position as “guy with clipboard” in days of yore. He also knows me well enough to know when to smile and roll his eyes, which he now did.

I wanted training this year because the script is slightly different this time around—wisely so, the better to safeguard donors’ personal information—and that took me a minute to get used to. I don’t like change, at first. Another reason I often get nervous at the fund drive is that, inexplicably, I always feel like the first time I answer a WDAV call-center phone that I’m being broadcast live on the radio. Not.

So anyway, after my first call, I was fine. The ambient music soothed my savage breast, and soon I was joshing with my fellow volunteers and staffers, taking calls for the cause. I was even moved to make my own annual WDAV donation on the spot, in an amount this year entitling me to a premium gift CD. (One year, I only was able to offer up a heartfelt jar of loose change. The announcer rattled it on the air with heartfelt thanks, but no CD.)

This morning, caught up in the moment, I dedicated my contribution and the CD of English choral music to my dad Sam, who is one of the world’s biggest, baddest, old-school, choral-music anglophiles. And how fitting that the guest announcer who read Dad’s name on the air was Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, a British conductor, violinist and onetime chorister himself. Dad was thrilled.

All too soon, my call-center shift was over. On the way out, I grabbed a great plate of food (okay, two plates), courtesy of Toast restaurant here in Davidson, one of many generous community partners who support WDAV in many ways.

You can, too: Click or call now, operators are standing by!

Bonus note: The English choral music CD in question is Treasures of Christchurch: The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Stephen Darlington. WDAV is proud to be a media sponsor for that choir’s visit to Charlotte on April 4 and to Davidson on April 5.