All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘gay alumni’

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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.”


We Are Family: Everybody Sing!


[Addendum: Here's the prayer that Chaplain Rob Spach ’84 offered at the ceremony. I'd only add a prayer that the spirit of this one spread across campus and keep spreading!]

It’s hard not to stay open-minded on a liberal arts college campus full of idealistic young people. It’s possible, mind you, but hard. Besides, it’s much more fun being open-minded. So I was happy to be among the glad throng at Thursday afternoon’s grand opening of the college’s new Multicultural House, a resource rich with possibility.

President Tom Ross and Davidson students: Changing to stay the same, together. (photo, Bill Giduz) (clickable)

Long in the making by diverse hands and minds, the house is a crowning achievement in the (all-too-short) tenure of Davidson College President Tom Ross. Ross has been a leading champion of not just diversity but inclusivity throughout his own career, and he has brought that home to Davidson. In three years, he has made it clear with his trademark, elegantly plainspoken eloquence that this school can, will, and must “change to remain the same.”

The Multicultural House,  in a defunct fraternity house on the campus’s Patterson Court social row, is one of the bricks-and-mortar ways that Davidson is doing that. It is a manifestation of principles of acceptance both broad and deep that reach back to the school’s founding in 1837. A recent iteration of those principles can be found in this statement, which Tom Ross and Dean of Students Tom Shandley posted to the homepage news feed in support of the nationwide movement against bullying. It reads in part, “We believe Davidson should be a place where those who live, work, and study see difference as an opportunity and stimulus to learn about themselves, each other, and the larger world.”

I, for one, feel that this is absolutely fabulous.

Davidson: Putting the multi in multicultural. My nametag from the open house. (Scan by Winnie Newton.)

Davidson students helping to staff the house’s programming efforts are called, appropriately enough, “Community Connectors.” Already, student film producers are scheduled to screen Perspectives, a look at race and ethnicity on campus, at 8 p.m., Wed., Dec. 1. Upcoming or recent event sponsors in the refurbished space include  the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Alpha Kappa Alpha service sorority, a house-sponsored Relaxation Day before exams, the Gay-Straight Alliance, and the Alumni Association during Homecoming Weekend.

Homecoming shout-outs: The student group Gay-Straight Alliance and the Gay-Straight Alumni Network of Davidson teamed up for a killer reception in Carnegie Guest House Saturday afternoon. Moi was staff host. I also helped staff the Cake Race that morning. All in all, kudos to Peter Wagner ’92, his fantastic staff in Alumni Relations, and everyone who pitched in for one of the best Homecomings ever: some 800 diverse alumni gathered under electric blue autumn skies. Even the trees had on their multicolorful best for the occasion!

Alumni chat in front of Baker Sports Complex during the Alumni Cake Race on Saturday morning. (Photo: Bill Giduz) (clickable)