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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Celebrating Twenty Years

The Office of LGBT Life celebrated a birthday of its own during Homecoming Weekend.

The office kicked off its 20th anniversary celebration last Friday with a dinner for past and present Emory students, faculty, and staff.

More than 75 people attended the dinner, where Emory’s LGBT community members and allies networked, reminisced, and shared their experiences of being part of the University’s queer history.

In his keynote address, Dr. Gary Hauk, Vice President and Deputy to the President, reflected on how the LGBTQ community’s visibility and activism have helped shape Emory’s ethical engagement throughout the years.

Director Michael Shutt of LGBT and Ryan Roche, co-chair of Gay and Lesbian Alumni (GALA), took a few moments to recognize some of the achievements of Emory’s LGBTQ community, which included honoring Danny Ingram, an alumnus and U.S. Army veteran who was instrumental in the repeal of the "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy.

As a graduate student at Emory, I've reaped many benefits from the important work of the Office of LGBT Life. I feel safe and respected by my colleagues and professors. I've built community and created change with my LGBT peers, and I've grown as an educator and leader.

For me, attending the dinner was a way to thank all of those who came before me for their courage, action, and leadership, and to celebrate our ongoing commitment to making Emory a safe, just, and equitable campus.

On Saturday morning, GALA hosted its annual Blue Jeans Brunch, an opportunity for LGBT students and alumni to interact and enjoy conversation and networking in an informal setting.

In addition to catching up with alumni I already knew, I was able to meet other alumni for the first time and learn about their experiences at Emory and beyond.

I plan to join GALA upon graduating from my PhD program in 2013, and the brunch was a wonderful opportunity to learn about its members and see firsthand what GALA does.

I know that other students who attended had a positive experience, and I’d like to thank GALA on their behalf for inviting us and making us feel so welcome.

--Aby Parsons 13PhD

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