December 2015 Newsletter

Message From the Chair- Jack Bergen ‘77
It’s amazing to believe another year has gone by and so much has happened in the world around us and within our community.  I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on how things have changed over the past year and the progress that has been made.  Before I do that, on behalf of the officers and board of GALA ND/SMC, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and to ask you to consider GALA in your Year-End Giving in support of the LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.
 

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.

 
Regional Game Watches & Campus Tailgater– GALA sponsored a number of regional game watches across the US (including Boston, LA and NYC) for members and held our annual pre-game tailgater for members, students, faculty and friends from the South Bend Community for the Georgia Tech game in September.
 
LGBT Student Scholarship– For the first time ever, GALA awarded two $2,500 scholarships to qualified LGBT ND/SMC students.  Each student submitted a written application and committed to performing community service.  Congrats to AdrienneSMC ’17 and Bri SMC ’16 on being the first students to receive this scholarship.  Adrienne described her reaction to being awarded the scholarship, “I freaked out.  For two weeks I couldn’t stop smiling.  I ran down and told my friend Becky and she was so happy for me.  I texted my Mom…I won this scholarship.  I was really thankful.”  When recently asked to describe how things are on campus for LGBT students she said, “People are becoming more educated.  For me personally, I’ve found those little pockets of acceptance, and the pockets are kind of growing especially with the legalization of gay marriage over the summer.  People are talking about it more and it’s kind of an everyday topic in classes, so it’s becoming normal, something every day to talk about.”
 
Scholarship Fundraising– Similar to the LGBT Student Scholarship, for the very first time GALA undertook a Fundraising Campaign starting in September.  The original goal of raising $10,000 in 2015 was greatly exceeded as almost $20,000 has been raised.  The majority of this was accomplished through the generosity of members and friends attending the Premier Event in NYC hosted by Phil Donahue ’57 in November.  One of the highlights of the evening was viewing a collection of four current LGBT students sharing their experiences ND/SMC LGBT Student Video.  Given the success of this event, expect to see additional events in other cities in 2016, and a continued drive to eventually fund the scholarship through an endowment ensuring continuity in future years.
 
New Membership Options– Starting in September, Membership Levels available for individuals to join and support the group was expanded to include enhanced giving levels.  Each of the enhanced levels provides for an automatic contribution to the student scholarship fund.  In just 3 months, a number of members have signed up for this option contributing an additional $1,000+ annually to the fund.  These new options are available members who have an existing “contributing” membership as well as for non-contributing members.
 
Student Support– GALA continued our tradition of supporting the LGBT student community at ND & SMC through a number of different ways.  First, GALA provided funding for the annual student spring dance held this year at the Beiger Mansion.  Second, GALA sponsored a student to attend Camp Pride LGBT Leadership Week.  This year, the first transgender student attended from the ND/SMC community.  Third, through the generous donations made by GALA members, we were able to help PrismND come in # 47 (out of several hundred) in funds collected during the second annual Notre Dame Day in April.

Official Recognition With The NDAA– GALA submitted our request for official recognition to the Notre Dame Alumni Association in the spring of 2014.  Since then, an open on-going dialogue has continued.  We are hopeful that the time has come for LGBT alumni of Notre Dame to be welcomed into the overall alumni community.

Membership Outreach/Communication– Given the geographically dispersed nature of our membership, it is important to use all means available to communicate effectively with members.  In 2015, the number of individuals connecting via GALA’s Facebook Group went up almost 20% to just about 500.

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.  

Looking toward 2016, we have many challenges ahead of us.   I’d like to ask all members and friends to consider helping out in any way you can.  This could be through becoming a contributing member, making a donation to the scholarship fund, sponsoring a regional social or fundraising event, reaching out to fellow classmates who may have lost touch with GALA, or by using your skills and talents to assist with the many activities it takes to engage our members and/or to help current students
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In conclusion, I want to especially thank my fellow officers Brandon, Justine, Jerry and Mallory for their hard work and positive attitude they bring to all of their efforts.  Many of the accomplishments above were the result of their determination.  Also, I want to thank all of our members for your support and participation in 2015, and I hope that 2016 will bring even better results for our community.

Jack Bergen ’77
GALA ND/SMC Chair

LGBT Student Scholarship Giving                                     GALA ND/SMC Membership

GALA ND/SMC Holds First Ever Fundraising Event in NYC

On November 12, 2015 GALA held a fundraising event in NYC for the LGBT student scholarship fund.  The event was attended by over 80 alums and friends and raised over $17,000.  Everyone who attended was so engaged in the evening and thrilled to participate in helping out the scholarship fund.

In addition to Phil Donahue ’57 (who hosted the event) giving an impassioned speech, a video was shown of four current Notre Dame/St Mary’s LGBT students.  One of the students was the recipient of the first scholarship.  All of the students showed remarkable poise and confidence as they told their stories.

For more info and pictures, go to: NYC Scholarship Fundraising Event

The fundraiser also received very positive attention on campus.  The event was featured on the front page of the student newspaper The Observer with the heading:  GALA ND/SMC Hosts Fundraiser for LGBQ Scholarships.    

NYC event pic_4

US Supreme Court Decision June 26, 2015-Same Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States

One June 26, 2015 the US Supreme Court handed down a decision that gives same-sex couple the right to marry in all 50 states.   The vote was narrow – 5-4 – but Kennedy’s majority opinion was clear and firm: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years.

ND grad and GALA member Greg Bourke and his husband Michael Deleon were lead plaintiff’s in the Kentucky case that was part of the decision.  We all thank Greg and Michael for their efforts to help bring about this change.  For more information on their story go to: Huffington Post Article.

Greg Bourke and his family.

Greg Bourke (right) and his family.

GALA 2015 Football Tailgater – September 19th (ND vs. Georgia Tech)

 

2014 Football Tailgater

2014 Football Tailgater

 

GALA will be hosting our annual football tailgater on September 19th for the Notre Dame – Georgia Tech game.  For those who 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.

 

GALA 2015 Student Scholarship

Mallory Price, GALA Vice Chair for Membership announcing the 2015 student scholarship awards to Bri O'Brien and Adrienne Whisman

Mallory Price, GALA Vice Chair for Membership announcing the 2015 student scholarship awards to Bri O’Brien and Adrienne Whisman

 

During the 2015 Thomas Dooley Award Dinner, the first annual GALA student scholarships were awarded.  This year, the $2,500 scholarships went to Adrienne Whisman SMC ‘17 and Bri O’Brien SMC ‘16.  Congratulations to both!!

2015 Thomas Dooley Award Event

On April 10th, GALA held the 2015 Thomas Dooley Award Dinner and Ceremony.  This year’s Dooley award recipient was Patrick Burke ND ’06, co-founder and previous executive director of The You Can Play Project , and the current Director of Player Safety for the National Hockey League.

Jack Bergen, GALA Chair, presents check to Patrick Burke co-founder of You Can Play

Jack Bergen, GALA Chair, presents check to Patrick Burke co-founder of You Can Play

Patrick Burke, 2015 Dooley award winner and Bryan Ricketts, GALA board member

Patrick Burke, 2015 Dooley award winner and Bryan Ricketts, GALA Board member

Patrick Burke 2015 Dooley Award Winner, Liam Dacey and Jack Bergen, GALA Chair

Patrick Burke 2015 Dooley Award Winner, Liam Dacey and Jack Bergen, GALA Chair

Also being honored at the award event were:

Jack Bergen, GALA Chair, presents awards to Hank and Nancy Mascotte

Jack Bergen, GALA Chair, presents GALA Service Awards to Hank and Nancy Mascotte

Nancy and Hank Mascotte accepting the GALA Service Award

Nancy and Hank Mascotte accepting the GALA Service Award

  • GALA Alumni Award:  Kevin Heffernan ND ‘93, previous GALA officer for his dedication and help over the years to Notre Dame LGBT students and alumni.
Kevin Heffernan, 2015 GALA Distinguished Alumni Award winner

Kevin Heffernan, 2015 GALA Distinguished Alumni Award winner

Tom Hubbard, GALA Board member presents PrismND Officers with poster from 1972 "Out of the Closet" Dance

Tom Hubbard, GALA Board member presents PrismND Officers with poster from 1972 “Out of the Closet” Dance

Liam Dacey giving tribute to Fr Ted

Liam Dacey giving tribute to Fr Ted

GALA ND/SMC Response to Indiana “Religious Freedom” Bill

GALA ND/SMC is deeply saddened by the recent “religious freedom” bill passed by the Indiana legislature and signed into law by Governor Pence.  This bill, in effect, allows individual business owners to “refuse service” to LGBT individuals based upon their religious beliefs.

GALA has an event scheduled in South Bend on April 10th, the Thomas Dooley Award Dinner.  This event has been in the planning for many months.  Similar to other organizations conducting activities in Indiana, we have carefully evaluated the options available to us, including potentially moving the event.

We are pleased to tell you that the Dooley Award Dinner will take place as scheduled.  Unlike others, who have a presence in many locations, GALA has it’s roots in the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s community.  These two campuses are our “home”.  Not only did we go to school here, we started our journey into adulthood here, we grew as individuals with the help of classmates, teachers, coaches and staff.  We developed bonds to this special place that have existed for many years and will continue for many more.

In the end, we may strongly disagree with this new law, but we are equally committed and resolved to support the ND/SMC and South Bend LGBT community by continuing to host our event as planned.  While others may show their disagreement by choosing to leave the state, our “home” is firmly planted at Notre Dame and St Mary’s, and we choose to stay in solidarity and demonstrate our support in light of the decision.  In the spirit of Fr. Hesburgh, we honor his memory by standing up for what is right!

We are also especially pleased by the immediate support shown by local business and civic leaders in South Bend, including Mayor Buttigieg.  They have been very vocal in their message that “all are welcome”.

We encourage anyone who shares our resolve to join us at the event.  It will be a celebration of the great work performed helping LGBT individuals feel more included and accepted both on the playing field and in all walks of life.

GALA ND/SMC Officers and Board

2015 Thomas Dooley Award Event

GALA-ND/SMC, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, is proud to announce the winner of the 2015 Thomas A. Dooley Award.  This year’s award recipient is Patrick Burke ND ’06, co-founder and previous executive director of The You Can Play Project, and the current Director of Player Safety for the National Hockey League.

The Dooley awards ceremony will be held adjacent to the Campus of St Mary’s College, Notre Dame IN, on Friday April 10, 2015.

For more information go to 2015 Dooley Event