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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
Also being honored at the award event were:
- GALA Service Award: Nancy (SMC ’64) and Hank Mascotte, Founding members of PFLAG (Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Michiana Chapter-North Central Indiana for their efforts in support of gay youth in the South Bend community.
- 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.
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
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
Stanford Game October 4th- Once again GALA will be sponsoring a fabulous tailgater for a home football game. This year’s tailgater will take place for the Stanford Game October 4th. Mark your calendars and apply for tickets in the football lottery. Last year was unusually warm and the perfect opportunity to show off our colorful rainbow balloons and ND attire. Come and join us this year. There is always plenty of food and liquid refreshments!
Notre Dame Alumni Reunion- Call for Panel Speakers and Attendees
Are you thinking about coming to the ND Alumni Reunion this year, or do you need a reason to attend? GALA ND/SMC will once again be sponsoring an open house entitled “The Gay & Lesbian Experience at Notre Dame: Past & Present.” Come join us and hear about recent advances being made on campus with the new student group PrismND.
The reunion weekend is May 29th to June 1st. GALA’s event will take place on Saturday May 31st at 1:30 in DeBartolo Hall, Room 116. This time and location is now confirmed.
We are currently seeking panelists who are interested in sharing their experiences of how life at Notre Dame was for them. Join a group of current students, alums and faculty to hear what LGBT life is like at Notre Dame now and how this may be different from years past.
For more information contact Jack Bergen, GALA Chair at: firstname.lastname@example.org
He will be hosting the event on campus and would love to meet as many of you as possible. See you there!!
Saint Mary’s Alumni Reunion
For the second year GALA will also be sponsoring a panel at Saint Mary’s Alumni Reunion weekend held the same weekend as ND’s. Please join fellow alumnae for a panel discussion called “The LGBT Experience at Saint Mary’s College: Past and Present”. It will be held on Saturday May 31st from 3:30 – 4:30 pm in Spes Unica Hall, Room 145. This time and location is now confirmed.
So, you probably noticed that we finally redesigned our Website. The old one was getting a little long in the tooth and it seemed like it was past time for a visual refresh. In addition to being more modern, this layout is much more news oriented than what we have done before. This is part of our commitment to keeping our members updated on important news and information.
I am going to try to anticipate a few of the more common questions:
Where did the membership directory go?
It’s still there and it still works the same way that is always has. You can find a link to it under the Membership menu at the top of the page.
How do I renew my membership?
Login to your membership profile (again, a link can be found under the Membership menu at the top of the page) and click on the “Renew” button under the Membership Details section at the top of your profile.
How do I make a donation?
You can make a gift online by visiting the online giving page. For those who have given in the past, the mechanism is unchanged. If you haven’t given before, take it for a test drive! All donations are tax deductible.
♥ Lance (Vice-Chair for Membership)
The officers and board of GALA-ND/SMC believe it is time to evaluate the group’s relationship with Notre Dame and the NDAA (ND Alumni Association).
The GALA ND/SMC Official Recognition document contains the background and rationale for pursuing official recognition including a Q & A section. All members are encouraged to be make themselves fully informed on this topic.
Membership Feedback Session
On November 17, 2013 a virtual meeting was conducted via WebEx to communicate GALA’s evaluation of official recognition with the Notre Dame Alumni Association (NDAA). During this session the proposal was discussed and members provided their input. Based upon member feedback there was overwhelming support in favor of pursuing this action. The officers and board met in early December to determine next steps. Given the input from members, approval was given to move forward with the application. The target to draft the application and submit to the Alumni Association is the end of March, 2014. Once submitted, the timeframe is unknown for review and feedback. Prior to any final action on this matter a vote by the members will take place.
If you were unable to participate in the webinar or have questions send your comments to: jack.bergen(at)yahoo.com.
Jack (Vice-Chair for Programs)