March 15, 2004

Pulitzer Prize winner to keynote Pride banquet

By Eric Rangus


The 12th annual Pride banquet, scheduled for Thursday, March 18, at Miller-Ward Alumni House, will feature a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margaret Edson.

Tickets for Emory faculty and staff are $20 in advance; student tickets are $10 and all can be purchased at the Dobbs Center ticket counter. If available, tickets will be $25 ($15 for students) at the door.

Edson’s appearance was lined up by Doug Lothes, chair of the Pride banquet subcommittee of the President’s Commission on the Status of LGBT Concerns, which sponsors the event.

“I just asked her,” said Lothes, administrative assistant in University Development. Lothes and Edson are friends from All Saints Episcopal Church. When she asked what she should talk about, Lothes’ reply was simple.

“Anything you want to talk about, I’m sure we’ll want to hear it,” Lothes said, relating his response. “She has curtailed talking about her play, but I think part of the appeal of the Pride banquet for her is that she hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to talk to a gay audience.” Edson is a lesbian; she and her partner are parents of two children.

Edson has kept a low profile since winning the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Wit. She is a kindergarten teacher at John Hope Elementary School in Atlanta, and her public-speaking engagements have been minimal in the past few years.
Edson is no stranger to the Emory community, however. She delivered the Commencement address to the Oxford College Class of 2002.

A 1983 magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, Edson studied Renaissance history. She earned a master’s in English from Georgetown University in 1992. Prior to starting her teaching career, Edson held a variety of jobs including waitressing at a hog-farmer’s bar, working at a bike shop and as a clerk on the cancer and AIDS research unit of a Washington-area hospital.

The Pride banquet will begin with a beer/wine/soda reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 7 p.m. LGBT Chair Jeff Martin will deliver a brief report on the accomplishments of the commission over the past year as well as introduce President Jim Wagner, who is attending his first banquet. After the introduction, Edson will take the podium.

“This is a good chance for the commission to get together on a social level as well as relate to a wider audience what we have accomplished on the year,” said Martin, manager of meeting services.

The banquet, which is open to the entire Emory community, often is small (Martin said he hopes for 50 attendees; current ticket sales has the commission about two-thirds of the way there), but the presence of Wagner and Edson could increase interest.

“I think President Wagner being there is important,” Martin said. “He gets to hear what we’ve done first hand rather than in an e-mail or year-end report.”

Those accomplishments are wide-ranging. For instance, the commission has sponsored events such as an HR meeting on domestic-partner benefits and an event at Oxford on gays in the military.

For more information about the Pride banquet, contact Lothes at