December 2015 Newsletter
Recognition– GALA held our bi-annual Thomas Dooley Award in April honoring Patrick Burke ’06 for his work as the Co-Founder of You Can Play creating awareness and support for LGBT athletes. This was especially relevant to Notre Dame Varsity athletic teams whose members participated in creating a You Can Play Notre Dame video in 2014. During that event, we also recognized Kevin Heffernan ND ’93 a former GALA officer, with the GALA Alumni Award for his dedication and help over the years to Notre Dame LGBT students and alumni and we recognized Nancy (SMC ’64) and Hank Mascotte, Founding members of PFLAG-Michiana Chapter with the GALA Service Award for their efforts in support of gay youth in the South Bend community.
On Campus & Across the Nation– On the national front, we witnessed same-sex marriage become the law of the land in June. It took only 13 years to go from one state (Massachusetts) to all fifty. At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, spousal benefits for same-sex married couples were made available after the Supreme Court ruling in October ‘14 affecting Indiana.
Spirit of Inclusivity– Much has been seen in 2015 on greater visibility for transgender individuals across the US, the “coming out” of Caitlyn Jenner being the biggest example. Over the summer, GALA started the process of developing a roadmap to become more inclusive for the bi and transgender members within our group. Once we gather member feedback, our goal is to complete that process and initiate specific actions next year.
Summer 2015 Newsletter
Letter from the Chair – Jack Bergen ‘77
Summer is now a distant memory. Here in Boston we had three heat waves of 90+ degree weather, the latest one in September! Many of you have also felt the effects of a fierce summer with record heat, summer thunderstorms and terrible forest fires. As I put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad), today marks the 30 day “birthday” of my first grandchild Lucy born mid August. It has been so much fun holding and feeding our “little domer” over the past few weeks (notice I didn’t include changing). Aside from that, a number of things have transpired since our last newsletter.
At the national level we have seen the momentous Supreme Court decision. Congrat’s to all ND and SMC alum’s who can now get married in their home state. In a less visible ruling, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission used existing federal laws on discrimination to rule in favor of a sexual orientation discrimination case. This could pave the way for LGBT workplace protections without the need for additional federal legislation.
Also new since May are several interesting articles in the recent edition of Notre Dame Magazine. The first is a “shout out” to Kerry O’Conner, ND law school grad, who was one of several alums featured as a member of the NYC police dept. Kerry is an out lesbian NYC police sergeant working in Manhattan.
The second in an article entitled Family Counseling. This piece talks about the upcoming general synod taking place in October. The article suggests there may be opportunity to be more supportive of committed same-sex relationships and has strong support from Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich. Let’s hope with the Pope’s visit to the US in the fall, that progress can be made for stronger language and direction for same sex relationships, especially now that so many countries have passed marriage rights, including most recently in Ireland by an overwhelming public referendum.
On the campus front, the recipient of GALA’s scholarship to Camp Pride’s LGBT Leadership Week Eve Morrigan was featured in a piece by the Today Show. In the wake of all the press around Caitlyn Jenner, the segment showed Eve as a transgender college student at ND. Eve displayed great courage and determination in her ability to just “be herself” on campus.
My next visit to campus will be for the ND/Georgia Tech home game on Saturday September 19th along with a few other officers. I hope to see you there. Also, if anyone is planning on attending the ND/Boston College game at Fenway Park on November 21st let me know and we can do a mini tailgater prior to the game.
Fall Tailgate on September 19th
ND’s football season has started off with a great win against Texas and GALA will be on campus to welcome back all alums. This year the GALA tailgater will be held prior to the game against Georgia Tech on Saturday September 19th starting around 10:00AM. Similar to last year, the tailgate will be located in the “S” parking lot which is just south of the stadium and adjacent to Legends. Look for the rainbow colored balloons to find us. We are hoping the South Bend weather gods will provide us with favorable sunshine and warm temperatures for the event. Come and join fellow ND/SMC alums, students, faculty, friends and members of the South Bend LGBT community for some food and beverages.
This year, we have set a goal to raise $10,000. Reaching this goal will allow us to continue to fund the new LGBTQ Student Scholarship as well as provide continued funding to sponsor and host events that benefit LGBTQ Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alum of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College for various events throughout the year. In doing this, we also hope to form a stronger community for LGBTQ Alum and Allies and create networking and social opportunities for years to come!
Thank you to everyone who came to the panels GALA ND/SMC sponsored this year for the Reunion- they were both a great success! We had approximately 30-40 audience members at both the Notre Dame panel and the Saint Mary’s panel. Our panelists included GALA ND/SMC members and current students who shared about their experiences on each campus. The experiences of our panelists ranged in era from the 1950s to our current students. Needless to say, we had dynamic and engaging dialogue about the issues that face the LGBTQ communities on both campuses. Feedback from the audience members was positive, supportive, and they were eager to help advance the mission of GALA ND/SMC and support the current students. We look forward to continuing these important conversations and to sponsoring another panel next year!
Every year GALA member donations help to sponsor a Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s student participate in Camp Pride Leadership Week. This year ND student Eve Morrigan ‘17 attended. Here are her reflections:
My time with Campus Pride was one unique and invaluable. I would go again in a heartbeat. I reveled in the opportunity to move freely amongst other individuals queer or trans, but I found repugnant the pronounced pressure to conform to a certain ideology.
In informal contexts, I could experience others relatively unadulterated: they shared themselves as they wished, and I was given a glimpse into their unique lives. I, however, did not appreciate the explicit value placed on only certain types of diversity and dignity, and experiencing this contrast so much more sharply left me more disillusioned with the current modes of thought within the general LGBTQA community, and with my place within it.
I am taking back to campus some new directions to pursue in queer theology – A pity there were so few present at that session! – connections with peers, and a renewed sense of urgency to compose a rival approach to identity, personhood, etc., than that promoted at Campus Pride – a large and foreboding feat that I doubt I can accomplish but must attempt. Honestly, I have gained very little directly from the programming of Campus Pride: either I was already quite familiar with what was shared, or I found myself forced to make sharper my own ideas against what was presented.
Has Campus Pride has made me a stronger leader? I have never really considered myself a leader or an activist. But I can say that I have emerged an even stronger individual: I have been able to relate to others as individuals – new things are always learned from others – and in the alienation I often felt there without real retreat, I needed to become more sure of my sense of self. I have not learned much more about myself qua myself, but I have learned more about the experiences and lives of other queer or trans individuals, something I have never been able to do really at Notre Dame. I do have more well-defined LGBTQA goals for the university, but they are less political and more social, relating to the integration of the community into the larger campus whole.
What change would I very much like to see within the LGBTQA community back on campus? I would have to say either a greater openness to religion, or the deconstruction of the cliquish atmosphere. The latter tends to alienate not just folk who are not queer or trans, but – perhaps more importantly – those who would be included within the community but are otherwise intimidated by such an atmosphere, as I myself have felt.
With Campus Pride I have had several issues, but I do not regret it in the least: the opportunity to come together with and to communicate so freely with so many of my queer or trans peers has been such a blessing, and I intend to see whether the organization would in the future have me back as a Pride Leader. I have found myself inspired.
I am Karen, the first transgender ND grad to come out. At my 50th reunion, I called ahead to the alum reunion office to discuss my coming with my wife (spouse) and my nametag. And, I contacted Sister Susan Dunn, OSB, the administrative assistant for the gay-lesbian group for a meeting.
On our first day staying at the femme friendly St. Mary’s Inn, the shuttle driver asked us “OK, which of you is the alum?” I replied “I am”. She said “What class?” I answered “Class of 1960”. She said “I didn’t know there were any girls that that class.”
There were 387 of my classmates and I was the only girl in my class photo. My wife was among the wives watching and heard the comment “Look there’s a girl up there.” My wife chimed in and said “That’s my husband.” And immediately she had lots of questions.
Meeting at the bookstore with Sister Sue Dunn, OP, assistant VP for student affairs at the bookstore; and, later Elizabeth Moriarity at the Student Center’s office of student abuse issues, I asked how many transgender students or alums had “outed” themselves. What a surprise to learn that I was the first. And, I was shocked at the archaic procedures to “find yourself” on campus. So, when I was shook hands with Father Jenkins for my 50 Year Club photo, I said “Thank you Father for Sister Sue Dunn and your gay-lesbian support on campus.” And, Sister Sue did send us “Stand Against Hate” T-shirts from campus the next year.
My childhood was very traditional. I was a high mass altar boy in the Latin Rite days and later a lector. One of my father’s cousins was Bishop Eugene Gerber of Wichita and another Monsignor Edgar Kurt of Dubuque. Two of my mother’s aunts were Benedictine nuns and a cousin of her mother’s mother had baptized her.
In that era of the Christine Jorgensen sex change operation there was literally no other news and no internet. So, my curiosity to find out why I wanted to dress in my sister’s and mother’s clothes when they were out shopping was unanswered. When I was at ND I participated in the YCS (Young Christian Students) support mentored by Father Louis Putz, CSC, for Martin Luther King. My father died at age 52 in the first week of my senior year and I had to step in helping my mother manage her affairs with his estate manager. Then in medical school there was literally nothing about transvestitism as it was called then in the Index Medicus; and, being immersed in 24/7 studies, my girl self was suppressed in a mental closet. I was terribly frightened to discuss my feelings.
Fast forward to 1991 when after 20 years of marriage and 3 daughters, my oldest opened my briefcase on our entry stairs out of curiosity and brought to the kitchen, where my wife and I were standing, a pair of ladies shoes. She said, “Dad these aren’t Mom’s size, what are they?” I confessed on the spot that I was a “crossdresser” and my heart sank, because 8 years of blame, shame, guilt, denial and depression followed. “Expert” counselors recommended to us found our family more of a curiosity. Just as my wife and I were each speaking to divorce attorneys, we found an experienced sexual education counselor who literally turned our lives around.
Where am I now? Retired to our former vacation Aspen home with my wife. Besides my regular semi-retired medical activities, I’m also a member of WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgendered Health, member of GLMA (Gay Lesbian Medical Association) and, secretary of AspenOUT that puts on Aspen Gay Ski Week. I’ve had facial feminization surgery (FFS), electrolysis (yes, it’s painful) and take low dose cross hormones. People know me as the Caitlyn Jenner of Aspen: after all I’ve climbed all 54 of the Colorado 14,000 foot peaks, trekked to Everest base camp, done the tour of Mont Blanc, etc. And, I also lead a femme life with my zumba and booty bar classes with other girls.
Life, though, is not a bed of roses. Although I pass well, I continue to encounter circumstances of discrimination. On the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) we light candles for my more than 30 transgender sisters who’ve been murdered each year in hate crimes. I envy my gay and lesbian friends who haven’t had to change their names and all IDs and certificates, get a completely new wardrobe, have painful and expensive surgery and electrolysis, but I apologize. This is all about “finding yourself” and your brain will not let you rest until your “self” is expressed.
Passing of Prof. Hoffman
We’d like to lend our condolences to the family, friends, and students of Prof. Hoffman. A profound educator and immense personality, we hope that his legacy continues on at Notre Dame and that those who have been influenced by his commitment to education can share his spirit with others.
Spring 2015 Newsletter
Message From The Chair – Jack Bergen ‘77
Spring has finally come, and for those of us in Boston with record snowfall it hasn’t come soon enough. Since our last newsletter much as happened. On the good side, hearings were recently held by the Supreme Court for marriage equality. We all hope for a positive decision by the end of June. Our own Greg Bourke ’82 and his husband are the key defendants for the state of Kentucky’s case. Also good was the performance of both the men’s and women’s ND basketball teams in the NCAA tournament. Congratulations to them on making it into the “elite 8” and in the finals respectively. On the bad side, there have been several unfortunate incidents in major US cities of violence against black men by police. And on the “just plain ugly” side has been the passing, and then a quick change, on the Religious Freedom Bill in Indiana. Thanks to all who voiced your concern and support for the LGBT community in both South Bend and across all of the state.
Against all this GALA held our bi-annual Dooley Award Dinner and Ceremony recognizing Patrick Burke, ND ’06 for his great work with the You Can Play project. During the event, we had ~ 60 people, including almost a dozen SMC and ND students attend. It was so rewarding to celebrate with fellow alums and others the great work of Patrick and other award winners. Also, it was fantastic to announce the first annual GALA Student Scholarships at the dinner. During that weekend, GALA also sponsored a panel featuring students from both Notre Dame and St Mary’s sharing their experiences on campus. Even though there continues to be challenges, it is so encouraging to hear about students being able to be out with friends and classmates.
Most recently a lot to you participated in the ND Day celebration. Through your donations and voting for PrismND, they landed at #51 (out of ~800 groups) and received over $5,000 from the $1M challenge fund. Great job!!
We hope to see many of you on campus at the upcoming alumni reunion event (June 6th) and for the football tailgater (September19th).
GALA-ND/SMC will once again be sponsoring two panel discussions during Reunion weekend entitled, “The Gay and Lesbian Experience at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s: Past and Present.”
Come and join us as we hear from students and alumni about their experiences of being LGBT on campus. We will have a panel discussion on Saturday, June 6th from 1:30-2:30 in DeBartolo Hall, Room 126. We will also have a similar panel discussion on Saint Mary’s campus from 3:30-4:30 in Spes Unica Hall, Room TBD. Please check Facebook and the GALA website in the days leading up to the event for the latest details.
Football Tailgater ND/Georgia Tech on September 19th
Once again GALA will sponsor our annual football tailgater on campus. This year, the tailgater will be held prior to the game against Georgia Tech on Saturday September 19th. For those that attended last year, you’ll remember how cold and miserable the weather was. Unless lightening strikes us, it has to be much better!! Come and join fellow alums, students, faculty and friends for some beer, brauts and fun conversation.
On Campus Updates
New LGBT Group at Notre Dame
A new LGBT group recently started on campus. OUTatND, made up of primarily undergraduate and graduate students but also including faculty, alumni and others kicked off their campaign on Tuesday April 28th. The organization is independent of the University and is focused on promoting equality, visibility and solidarity for the LGBTQ community at Notre Dame. The group is not looking to replace the existing university-recognized student organization PrismND, but to provide additional visibility for areas outside of Prism’s capabilities. More information can be found at www.outatnd.org.
Once again GALA sponsored the annual student dance “Spring Follies”. As in previous years, Ron Montandon and Dennis Slade, long-time GALA friends hosted the event at the Beiger Mansion. There was so much interest, the students had to rent 2 buses to transport all the attendees to the ball. Of course, the dance was followed by an “after party” well into the evening (remember when you used to go to those).
ND Day April 26-27
Notre Dame held it’s 2nd annual Notre Dame Day to raise awareness and money for various school related groups. $1 million was available to all groups to be split up based on the # of “votes” during the 24 hour period. Thanks to the generosity of GALA members and other donors, PrismND, the LGBT student group, came in # 51 (out of 800+ groups) and was allocated over $5,000 of the $1M. Great job to all that participated!
New Scholarship Winners
The GALA Officers and Board are proud to announce the recipients of the first LGBTQ Student Scholarship. Students, Bri O’Brien and Adrienne Whisman were recognized at this year’s Dooley Awards Dinner as the 2015 Scholarship recipients. Bri O’Brien is a junior at Saint Mary’s College majoring in Social Work and Adrienne Whisman is a sophomore at Saint Mary’s College who is studying History and Humanistic Studies. Each student will receive $2,500 toward their tuition upon successful completion of a community service project. Both Bri and Adrienne have exemplary academic backgrounds as well as proven leadership skills. We are delighted that Bri and Adrienne applied, and we are looking forward to supporting them this coming year with their service projects.
If you are interested in supporting the scholarship fund or if you have any questions about this fund, please feel free to contact us.
In Memory of Kevin Heffernan ND ‘93
Unfortunately, one of our own, Kevin Heffernan ND ’93 passed away in mid April. Kevin was very actively involved in the club, and recently was recognized for his dedication with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award at the Thomas Dooley Celebration. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his husband David Biele and to his family.
Winter Newsletter 2015
Message From The Chair – Jack Bergen ‘77
As I reflect on this issue’s message I am encouraged by a number of recent events: A fun GALA tailgater before the cold/wet Stanford game, the right for same-sex couples to marry in Indiana, benefits for married same-sex couples at Notre Dame & Saint Mary’s, and a Pope who continues to create an inclusive and forward-thinking vision for his flock.
I was recently interviewed by the South Bend Tribune to provide GALA’s perspective on changes at Notre Dame related to the LGBT community. As I told the reporter, we are optimistic with the progress in allowing the creation of PrismND and a very quick decision on marriage benefits for employees, but also need to continue to push for change.
Notre Dame has many proud traditions. One tradition is support for human rights and human dignity. Look at the work Fr. Hesburgh did back in the 60’s during the civil rights movement. He stood hand-in-hand to fight for civil rights when it was extremely unpopular. Similarly, we would love to see Notre Dame be the leaders in the movement to spearhead change for LGBT Catholics instead of opposing it. Pope Francis has set clear vision on where he wants to take this. Notre Dame has a great opportunity to either embrace this vision, or continue to reinforce the old stereotypes that being gay is somehow less than acceptable. Our message to the leaders at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s – continue the tradition of embracing and leading change when it is right!!
I wish everyone a fun and loving holiday season with family and friends. In the spirit of the season, I also encourage everyone to find at least one way to give back to someone in need. After all, isn’t that what gives us the most joy?
Stanford Football Tailgater
About 40 dedicated people stopped by the annual GALA football tailgater on October 4th prior to the ND/Stanford football game. Included in the group were members of GALA, PrismND, SAGA (Saint Mary’s LGBT student group), Glass (ND Graduate LGBT student organization) as well as folks from the South Bend LGBT community. Even though the weather this year was cold and rainy, everyone enjoyed some “warm” camaraderie and a last minute win! Too bad the results for Florida State and Northwestern weren’t the same.
Gay Ski Week
As we ramp up a variety of activities and events around the country for our members, there is one in particular we’d like to highlight this winter. One of our members, Karen Kurt (ND ‘60), has helped to organize Gay Ski Week; a week-long LGBTQ winter event held in January.
Located in Aspen, this event is not only fun for alums and their families, but proceeds also go to The Roaring Fork Gay and Lesbian Community Fund (RFGLCF). This fund sponsors educational forums, field referrals for incidents of discrimination, hate crimes, or other concerns, and work to bring together the varied communities of the western slope of Colorado.So for our Colorado alums, or those who happen to be in the area, please check out Gay Ski Week from January 11th to the 18th in Aspen!
For more information check out their direct website here: http://gayskiweek.com/
The Family Synod in Rome and What it Means for Gay Catholics
In recent months the international media has been reporting on Pope Francis and the seemingly different tone coming from the Vatican on issues related to social teaching. In particular, bishops from around the world gathered in Rome in October 2014 for The Family Synod where they discussed pastoral care for people and families that have been marginalized by the Church. While the synod was happening, the bishops’ working document was released and the language in the report was remarkably welcoming. There was a section named “Welcoming homosexual persons” that talked about the “gifts and qualities” gay people have to offer, and mentioned “the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.” The document also made clear that the Church teaching about marriage remained solely for heterosexuals, but the language used was a far cry from the “intrinsically disordered” bit in the Catechism.
When the bishops released the final document, however, the language had significantly changed, and was much less welcoming. The title of the section changed to “Pastoral Attention Towards Persons With Homosexual Tendencies” and instead it highlighted how unacceptable it to put any pressure on the Church to support civil unions for same sex couples. They also stated, “There is absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous for God’s plan for marriage and family.” Clearly, this is more reminiscent of the Church’s previous statements on this issue, and based on reports out of the Vatican, the changes in language for the final version occurred after an uproar about the original text. At least for now, the synod doesn’t seem to mean much of anything for gay Catholics, other than the knowledge that there is discord about the topic in Rome. Considering the Church’s history with LGBT issues, perhaps having discord is a very good place to be.
Same Sex Benefits at ND
This fall’s federal level decision to uphold the repeal of bans on same-sex marriage in several states has a profound impact on Notre Dame employees and faculty. Because the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages, the University has conceded to providing these benefits based on civil law.
From the University’s HR department:
“…the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages and the University will extend benefits to all legally married spouses, including same-sex spouses.
Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately.”
Implementing immediate changes in policy means that our faculty and staff, the people who work to create the Notre Dame experience, will have the opportunity for a more equal employment and a just work environment.
Tom Dooley Award Ceremony: Once again GALA is planning to hold a bi-annual awards ceremony honoring a person who represents the values that our own Tom Dooley demonstrated during his too-short life. The event is scheduled to take place this spring in South Bend, exact date TBD. As we did in 2013, we hope to have a weekend of activity. More details will be provided but consider joining fellow members, students and friends for this event.
WANT TO GET MORE INVOLVED?
Share Your Story
We’ve all got a story, and as members of the Notre Dame community we realize that our stories connect us to each other. We’d like to reach out to our members and ask that they share their stories—what they’ve been up to, struggles they’ve overcome, or successes they’d like to share—anything that gives us a window into the unique and diverse people we call our ND family.
No experience in writing is required, just submit a short segment (around 500 words) and we’ll work with you to make sure it gets shared.
What are dues and why do we need them?
Dues are $35 dollars a year and assist with on-campus and regional social events, fund, the Campus Pride scholarship for an ND/SMC student, supporting the annual alumni reunion event— all of which build real relationships not only between alumni but impact the lives of current LGBT students on campus.
All of the events that you see in our newsletters happen because of dues, and we’d like to encourage you as a member to participate and contribute.
To renew your membership just go to GALA’s website and select the “Membership” tab. Credit cards are encouraged! If you’d rather mail your payment, please send it to:
1856 Sherman Ave,Apt 1SW Evanston, IL 60201-3724
On a final note:
During this holiday season we wanted to extend a special holiday greetings from your officers. We’ve been proud to work closely with our members this year; it’s the community we have with each other that makes Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s such special places!