Emory GALA off to a promising start

Last fall, the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA) welcomed a new group: Emory GALA, a happy acronym for Gay and Lesbian Alumni, although the organization also includes bisexual and transgendered members.

GALA’s goals include providing scholarships to deserving students, encouraging AEA and community involvement among members, sponsoring social events and travel, and supporting the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Life and its programs.

One of GALA’s first events was a highly successful Pride Benefit fundraiser in January, at which fifty guests joined GALA co-chairs Elliott Mackle 77G and Sharon Semmens 80C 80G (above) for a cocktail party and kick-off presentation at Mackle’s home. The event raised more than $6,000 to sponsor the annual Emory Pride Banquet, traditionally held March 2.

“The formation of Emory GALA is important because it demonstrates once again the University’s recognition and support of diversity,” said Semmens, who recently served as board co-chair for the gay rights organization Georgia Equality. “Students, faculty, and alumni who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex are invisible on many campuses. For some, this can lead to isolation and depression. I believe Emory GALA will be a significant factor in building a sense of community within Emory’s LGBT population. I know it will assure future generations that they have an affirming home at Emory.”

GALA leaders are planning additional fundraisers, social and cultural events, and programs to enhance LGBT students’ experience at Emory and to enrich the campus and alumni communities.

“When I was a graduate student in the 1970s, I was out and proud,” said Mackle, a journalist and mystery writer. “But most people were too polite to mention it. Change is good. Emory GALA will not only help change the culture of our academic community, it will support the open exchange of ideas and introduce the possibility of options in everyday life.”—P.P.P.




© 2006 Emory University