GALA ND/SMC Memories

As part of the transition to the new University approved LGBTQ Alumni Affinity group, GALA recognizes that it is important to remember the journey we have taken, and to celebrate the milestones and accomplishments along the way.

We will be sharing various stories from old newsletters and other sources as we wind down our existing organization and set the new one up for success.  In addition to dusting off stories and pictures from our archives, we invite members to submit your own memories of life on campus, events and other occasions are important reminders of our past.  (Clear images preferred)  Send to

Note – The images below are much clearer in the actual linked document. 

In this edition we look at a the Fall 2000 Newsletter The edition’s main feature was centered on “Reunion 2000 – A GALA Affair” where over 100 GALA members, family, and friends descended on South Bend to participate. Although this was the fourth gathering of its kind since the group’s inception, Reunion 2000 was the first time GALA gathered in South Bend, using the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s campuses as its bases of operation.

This edition also features updates from OUTreach ND (the LGBTQ student group at that time) where many of our members got their start in the ND LGBTQ community.


Top pic (L – R): Tom O’Neil, Don Roos, Fr Hesburgh, Gus Hinojosa, Liam Dacey, Kevin Heffernan

Lower pics (L – R): On the left John Cameron Mitchell & student Deka Montanya. Bottom right is at Truman’s and includes Danny Wiederkehr, Joe Petttibone, Robby Davidson, Matthew Kalp & Nick Lescanic.

As featured in the Spring Spring 2004 Newsletter, the Notre Dame Queer Film Festival was founded in 2004 and ran in 2005 under the same moniker. In 2006, under pressure from a new administration led by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, the name of the festival was changed to Gay and Lesbian Film: Filmmakers, Narratives, Spectatorships. The festival was co-founded by then GALA Chair Gus Hinojosa and students Liam Dacey and Richard Friedman. Other notable GALA members who made the festival happen included David Pais, Tom O’Neil, Tessa Sainz, and Kevin Heffernan.

The festival was a major turning point for LGBTQ rights on campus and for GALA, as the organization joined a coalition of festival co-sponsors which included 5 academic departments (most notably the Department of Film, Television, and Theater) and the ND Counseling Center.

The original official mission of the festival was to promote discussion and awareness of queer films in a context of acceptance of all sexualities at the University of Notre Dame, and, in the words of Liam Dacey, co-founder and festival student chair, to “normalize the existence of gay students on this campus and offer to the entire community the opportunity to enjoy and study the extraordinary accomplishment of gay cinema artists in the United States.”

GALA ND/SMC underwrote a large portion of the festival expenses and many alums work with the students & faculty to ensure it’s success.

The festival was sanctioned an “official academic event” and ND President Rev. Edward Malloy allowed the festival to occur on the principle of academic freedom. Notable special guests included filmmaker and Notre Dame alum Don Roos, John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Brian Dannelly (Saved!), GALA Co-Founder Tom O’Neil, and the late Tony-award winning playwright Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!).

The Queer Film Festival attracted national media attention and was covered in such outlets as The Chicago Tribune and The Fox News Channel. Dacey said at the end of the festival that “it’s been the best weekend I’ve had at Notre Dame.”

The festival was brought back to life by students in pre-pandemic times and was rebranded as the “Global LGBTQ+ Film Festival.”

Other Resources:


The Gays are Everywhere – As shown in the 1998 Spring Edition, five years after the first GALA ND/SMC reunion, GALA has grown its members up to 700+ in 42 states and the District of Columbia—from coast to coast (including Alaska and Hawaii) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Globally speaking, GALA’s international presence stretches around the world—north from Canada; east to England, Germany, and Switzerland in Western Europe; and all the way to Malaysia and Taiwan in Asia.   As expected, the biggest concentration of alums is in the larger urban areas in the US.

This edition’s 32 pages is filled a number of interesting articles including personal stories and member updates from various cities around the country (Boston, NYC, San Francisco) – Check them out!  Here is one!  Who are these people??

Gala ND/SMC has taken great pride over the years supporting the s LGBTQ community.  In the 1999 Winter/Spring edition, GALA presented our Third Annual Memorial Service Award to Theresa Gibbons ’99 & Mark Masoud ’99 at OUTReach ND’s April Follies event.  Also, read about the continued push to add sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause.  Editor’s note – over 20 years later this change has still not been adopted.

In the 2003 Spring Edition, Father Mychal Judge, the late New York City firefighters’ chaplain and a victim of September 11, is recognized with the Thomas A. Dooley Award from the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC).

Judge died while administering last rites to firefighters in the World Trade Center tragedy. During his lifetime, the openly gay priest ministered to AIDS patients and other citizens of New York in the same crusading spirit displayed by Tom Dooley, the gay Notre Dame grad who achieved world fame in the 1950s as a doctor who set up charitable hospitals to assist the needy of Vietnam and Laos.  “Father Judge and Tom Dooley both knew what ministering was all about,” Donahue said. “They were two generous and selfless men who happened to be gay.”  Accepting the award is on his behalf is Brendan Fay, a close friend to Fr Mychal.  

Also in this edition are some great pics of the GALA Reunion in NYC showing some very young images of our members!

The first memory is the 1994 Newsletter – Summer/Fall written after the first Alumni Reunion Weekend.  Even though the image may be dark, we are sure those of you in attendance will remember the event well.  This newsletter includes articles such as “Do I Want To Be Part of This?”, “Gay Domer March at Stonewall 25”, “GALA’s first call for elections” and “HIV, A Report From the Front”.

Here is another memory from the 1995 Summer/Fall Newsletter showing members attending the Second Alumni Reunion Weekend in Chicago.  Anyone remember wearing those black boots and jean shorts?  Nice tee shirts!!!

And from the 1997 Winter Newsletter, we see the start of the journey by GALA leadership meeting with NDAA to gain greater visibility & recognition for LGBTQ alums.  The goals laid out in the article are virtually the same 30 years later.