A Rich TapestrySwarthmore's LGBTQ community is diverse and impactful. Here are a few of its many voices. We welcome the addition of yours: firstname.lastname@example.org Bruce Leimsidor ’63 Jennie Boyd Bull ’67 Mark Sherkow ’67 Arlene Zarembka ’70 Shoshana Kerewsky ’83 Roger Latham ’83 Seth Brenzel ’94 Timothy Stewart-Winter ’01 Matthew Armstead ’08 Tatiana Maria Cozzarelli ’08 Diana "Teddy" Pozo ’09 Andrew Dorrance ’15 Margaret Hughes ’17 George Huber Arlene Zarembka ’70 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I wasn’t aware of any LGBTQ students at Swarthmore when I was there (1966–1970), although later I learned that some were gay or lesbian. I certainly was more attracted to women, but didn’t recognize it at the time as meaning I was a lesbian. The number of times I ever went out with a male during my four years could be counted on one hand. The activity that I was most involved in during my Swarthmore years (besides field hockey and my classes) was protesting the war in Vietnam and doing draft counseling. After I graduated from Swarthmore, I spent a year in Kenya, living and teaching at a Harambee school in a rural area. (My brother had been in the Peace Corps, and married a woman who was from the Mua Hills, about 40 miles from Nairobi.) At that time, female students often held hands with each other, and so did male students. My brother and sister-in-law left Kenya to come to the United States after I’d been in Kenya for about three months. I became very close with the younger sister of my sister-in-law, and we often would hold hands, which was considered normal in Kenya. But I think it helped me break the barrier of “don’t touch.” I returned to the U.S. from Kenya in 1971 to go to law school at St. Louis University. I lived in an apartment with several undergraduate students, one of whom was engaged to be married at the end of her senior year. Sally and I became close friends, and I realized that I was very upset about her getting married. I began thinking there was something “wrong” with me. But I rather quickly repressed those thoughts. It was not until I was working in West Virginia, at legal services in Morgantown (1974–1976) after I graduated from law school, that my “coming out” process began. But I still didn’t realize I was a lesbian. But soon after I returned to St. Louis in February 1976, I came out to myself. (This was all occurring without knowing anyone else who was a lesbian—or more accurately, without knowing that I had ever met anyone who was a lesbian.) Not too long after I returned to St. Louis, I connected with the lesbian community in St. Louis, both through softball (as a lesbian novel title says, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend) and politically (abortion rights work). What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m an attorney in private practice (four days a week now), with my practice concentration now on wills, powers of attorney, trusts and estate planning, probate, co-parent adoptions for same-sex couples, and name/gender change petitions. I also am a member of the Legal Committee of the ACLU of Missouri. The majority of my clientele are from the LGBTQ community. I argued against the Missouri “sexual misconduct” law on behalf of Lambda Legal before the Missouri Supreme Court in 1986. (The sexual misconduct law criminalized sexual contact between persons of the same sex.) Of course, 1986 was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld such “sodomy” laws in the Hardwick case, and the Missouri Supreme Court followed shortly thereafter with a very homophobic decision. As a cooperating attorney for the ACLU, I successfully challenged St. Louis City’s bans on “cross-dressing” and “lewd and lascivious behavior” in the 1980s. (Of course, I wore a pantsuit to the trial! Virtually all women attorneys in St. Louis at that time wore dresses or blouses and skirts.) After the Hardwick decision in 1986, Zuleyma Tang-Martinez (my life partner since 1983, and spouse since 2005) worked with others to form the Privacy Rights Education Project (PREP), which became Missouri’s statewide LGBT political organization. PREP advocated not only for LGBT rights and for hate crimes bills, but also for reproductive rights and privacy rights in general. We lobbied extensively in the Missouri legislature on all of these issues. PREP later became known as PROMO. When a right-wing group (the Amendment Coalition) formed in 1993 to try to pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment in Missouri (to prohibit any government entity in Missouri from passing any LGBT protections), I organized the legal team to fight the proposed amendment in the courts (while others organized politically to fight it), and I also participated in debates with the anti-gay organizers. Fortunately, the Amendment Coalition did not get enough signatures to get the proposal on the ballot—partly, I think, because we collectively wore them down. In 1998, I convinced the first judge in Missouri to grant a co-parent adoption to a same-sex couple, and have been doing same-sex adoptions ever since. (However, the ability to obtain a co-parent adoption has been dependent on having judges willing to grant them.) Due to my mother’s advancing Alzheimer’s, after 1998 I had to drop out of virtually all political activity, and focus on keeping my law office afloat as I struggled with helping my father deal with my mother until he died in 1999, and then helping with my mother (who was then living in a nursing home) until she died in 2005. The years from 1998 to 2007 were Zuleyma’s and my years of “death and dying,” as all four of our parents had died by 2007. (Zuleyma is from Venezuela, so we had numerous trips to Venezuela to help out there.) I think Swarthmore and its Quaker philosophy influenced me because of its focus on listening to the inner light, its emphasis on social justice, and on treating others with respect. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? I love the rigorous intellectual atmosphere and I value its nonviolent Quaker philosophy, including listening to one’s inner self. Swarthmore has a very humanistic atmosphere. Its small size, and having one dining hall for everyone made it easy to meet people, and to feel like I “belonged.” If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? Before my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I thought the most important thing was intellectual achievement. The 16 years of Mom’s Alzheimer’s affected me greatly. Stuffing as much knowledge into my head as possible is no longer my goal—personal relationships and connections are very important, although I still enjoy reading and learning. I suppose the advice I would give to my younger self is to lighten up, laugh more, and remember that there is more to life than book-learning. Anything else you’d like to say? I was/am terrified by the election results, but determined to fight against the racism, misogyny, immigrant-bashing, anti-Semitism, and mockery of those who are different that Donald Trump has encouraged and promoted. I fear for the future of the Supreme Court, and what his appointment(s) could mean for the next 20 to 40 years. I will continue to speak out and to continue to fight for social justice. My activism over the years has included far more than LGBTQ and reproductive rights. At Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and after I was in private practice, I represented low-income families being displaced by private urban redevelopment corporations that were granted the power of eminent domain by the city. I also wrote a book, The Urban Housing Crisis: Social, Economic, and Legal Issues and Proposals (Greenwood Press, 1990), which covered five topics: financing and affordability, production, discrimination, displacement, and legal issues and proposals. Later, I wrote a book for young adults with Patricia McKissack, To Establish Justice: Citizenship and the Constitution (Knopf, 2004), about the history of the struggles for justice and civil rights by Native Americans, African-Americans, women, immigrants (with a focus on the WWII Japanese-American internment), people with disabilities, students, and sexual minorities. For five years, I wrote a monthly syndicated column about LGBT legal and political issues for various LGBT newspapers, until my mother’s advancing Alzheimer’s disease forced an end to writing the column. (At that time, “Q” was not yet being widely used.) In 2014, my spouse Zuleyma Tang-Martinez and I were among 10 plaintiff couples in Missouri who successfully challenged Missouri’s ban on recognition of same-sex marriages, in a case brought by the ACLU of Missouri. As a result of that victory, I am receiving Social Security spousal benefits equal to 50 percent of the Social Security benefits that Zuleyma is receiving, and will delay my own application for Social Security until age 70 to maximize my Social Security benefits. George Huber What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I started working here in August 1964 in the main library (before McCabe was built), then in McCabe for about five years before the music building was constructed, at which time I moved over to become head of the Daniel Underhill Music Library. Retired after 40 years in June of 2005 at age 65. I figured that was long enough and time to give someone else a shot at running the library. So haven’t been working on campus since then, although of course I still come up for films, lectures, and to use the library and to check up on the goings on in the music department! I guess I would say I felt comfortable over the years working at a liberal institution where there didn’t seem to be any gay discrimination or that I would be fired if I was found out. While I was never out, I was never in, either, and people sort of knew, I guess. I was recruited by Stephen Demos ’84 (then a board member of the Philly gay community center) to be one of the many marshals along the sides of the gay pride parade in Philly when it was resurrected from having been dormant for a few years. Got the training and the T-shirt. We got TV coverage, and one reporter stuck a microphone in my face and asked why we were marching and what we hoped to accomplish. I’m not a media person and went braindead and said something. I wasn’t worried because lots of others were interviewed, too, and I figured I’d end up on the cutting room floor. NOT. When I went to my favorite gay restaurant at 6 that night for dinner, they had been watching the news on TV and when I walked in, they recognized me! I got a free after-dinner drink. That was Saturday of graduation weekend. When I got off the train in S’more, there was a police car waiting at the station (something they used to do to be on the safe side) and the policeman was a friend of mine and gave me a ride home, after announcing that he had just seen me on TV. Oh, shit. At the luncheon on the president’s lawn after graduation, people were calling out to me, “Saw you on TV Saturday!” No place to hide. So I was out even though I didn’t know it. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m retired and basically not doing anything! Takes a lot of time and effort to do nothing. Of course, I keep busy. Have been supporting Giovanni’s Room, the GLBT bookstore in Philly (now oldest still in the country, established in 1973), since it first opened. Helped write blurbs for novels in their early printed booklist guides. Then, when they had to move from their location because of a new homophobic landlord and ended up purchasing their current building at 12th and Pine, I helped renovate with other volunteers, painting and plastering. Still stop by once a week to make sure I don’t miss any new gay books! When you look back at Swarthmore, what makes you most proud? I think it was in 1989 when I was contacted by then-Dean Janet Dickerson H’92 and asked if I wanted to be on a gay studies committee being formed to discuss what to do about the money Richard Sager ’74 was giving to the College to support gay studies. The committee was formed and consisted of staff, faculty, and some alums when we could get them. (Stephen Demos ’84 helped out early on). That first committee managed to throw together a brief weekend gay studies symposium, and over 10 years we presented an annual weekend symposium, sometimes with performances, films, dinner, many outside guests, and theater performances. We started a Sager newsletter we sent to gay alumni a few times a year. I was the treasurer and archivist for the Sager committee. (My files are now in the Friends Historical Library.) Lots of work, and that original committee sort of burned out, and I left the committee after 10 years. We even had a weekend devoted to AIDS, with portions of the AIDS quilt on campus (one panel in memorial to our first faculty member to succumb, created by an alum), and theater presentation in the newly opened Frear black box theater [named for Robert Frear ’49], and a photo exhibit installed in McCabe. We did good things. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? Hard to say. I always did what I thought should be done and have no regrets. Anything else you’d like to say? One thing over the years I did befriend a few gay students: supporting them in need, taking them out to dinners, putting them up if they needed it, loaning them books to read and DVDs. Still in contact with many of them now too. Just being as helpful and supportive as I could be. Jennie Boyd Bull ’67 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I did not come out until 1971, a few years after I graduated in 1967. I never dated at S’more, one of two women still identifying as a “virgin” when I graduated (based on a campus survey that year). So my college years were a bit lonely and I focused on studies, walks in the Crum Woods, and folk dancing. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m newly retired, living in the mountains of Western North Carolina, after a career of activism in the feminist and LGBT communities. Much of my employment has been in book-related jobs: editor, librarian, archivist, bookstore manager, writer. I’ve also managed an intellectual property department for an international nonprofit and ministered in the GLTB community with Metropolitan Community Church after receiving an M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary. Today, I write poetry and contribute to the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, practice and teach Tai Chi, and volunteer at Dig In!, a community garden that grows fresh produce for low-income folks here in the mountains. Swarthmore opened my eyes and heart and conscience to racial, class, and political diversity. I consider that education as important as the academic expansion I received as an English literature major, which nurtured my lifelong love of words and books and reading. Swarthmore also introduced me to Quakerism, which led to my work with American Friends Service Committee after college and attendance at the Celo Friends Meeting today. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? The Quaker values and heritage, the opening to a universe of ideas and peoples, the beauty of the campus and Crum woods. I’m quite proud of Swarthmore’s increasing diversity over the years and its ongoing need-blind open admissions policy, without which I could never have attended. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? In your junior or early in senior year, seek out guidance about graduate school, especially if there is no history or expectation of graduate school in your family or background. I remember being confused that all these friends were applying, and I had no idea what, how, or if to do it—coming from a more provincial lower middle class background in Knoxville, Tenn., especially as a woman. Make sure you study history in high school. Anything else you’d like to say? As a full scholarship student from Tennessee, I felt relatively equal in the majority white, upper middle class student body, like a kid in a candy store, and quickly realized some of the class and educational differences with other students. Bruce Leimsidor ’63 I was at Swarthmore 1959–1963, and there was, in fact, nothing that could be termed an LGBT community there. We were all very deeply in the closet and homophobic comments were common even among fellow students who avidly defended the rights of other minority groups. Swarthmore was in no way any more tolerant or accepting of gay people than American society in general. Coming out would have led to ostracism and most likely expulsion. The College, which was so much more advanced on a whole panoply of social issues, was not at all supportive of gay students. Paradoxically, in a College that prided itself on its constant examination and challenging of social norms, homophobia was never put to question. Of course, at that time, I had no expectations that the college would be accepting of gays. Today, I am a professor of asylum and immigration law, and do independent counselling and advocacy work on LGBT asylum rights. My Swarthmore experience influenced my career choice in that it motivated me to help others avoid the pain and humiliation that I suffered as a gay student. I am proud to have been educated in an institution that took a leadership role in addressing the important social issues of its time, despite its neglect of gay rights. It’s hard to say what advice I would give to my younger self. Time, and the College, have changed so radically. Telling my younger self to be braver, and to come out, is impossible. It would have resulted in humiliation and expulsion. Margaret Hughes ’17 How has your experience been as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? Before college, I worked as an organizer on a marriage equality campaign in my home state of Rhode Island, and during a semester off from Swat I organized an LGBTQ nondiscrimination campaign in Utah. I was surrounded by LGBTQ mentors and immersed in legislative activism. Coming to Swat, I worried about the relative absence of a formal, organized LGBTQ activist presence, because for me, being gay had been synonymous with being a gay organizer. When I got here, I joined the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU). It wasn’t an activist group of the genre I was used to—SQU has weekly discussion meetings about [topics from] transmisogyny to BDSM to how we feel about our hair. The people I met through SQU and other groups helped me conceive of different kinds of activism that were more academically inflected, more grounded in the personal, and often more radical. Broadly, I’d say that the queer communities I’ve been part of at Swat have pushed me to strive to be more radical and more critical. They also helped me figure out what it could look like for me to be queer outside of campaign spaces. That leads me to say: My experience at Swat as a bisexual and gender nonconforming (white, able-bodied, upper class, and otherwise highly privileged) person has been great—SQU is a community I’m really invested in, I’ve gotten to take some fantastic gender & sexuality studies classes, I met my partner (Jay Wu ’15) here, and it is a fact that I plan phenomenal queer parties. I hold that with the knowledge that for a lot of other LGBTQ students, particularly low-income student of color and trans students, Swat hasn’t felt as welcoming. So it’s complicated for me talk about my experience as a member of Swat’s LGBTQ community, because I’m aware that my experience of support, growth, and community doesn’t align with the experiences of lots of other people in the community who may have experienced Swarthmore as a more difficult and alienating place to be queer or trans. What are you doing now, what do you plan to do after college, and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m majoring in English literature with a creative writing concentration. I help run SQU, a social group dedicated to improving campus life for LGBTQ+ students, and the Sexual Health Advocates, Swarthmore’s residence-based peer resources on sexual health. Through those groups and through friends I’ve made at Swat, I’ve gotten interested in sex education and the development of healthy sexuality, to the point that I’m thinking about how I can incorporate those interests into my post-college plans. Swarthmore’s summer grants have helped me to stay engaged in LGBTQ organizing and to explore the world of LGBTQ policy and research. This past summer, through a grant from the social sciences division, I interned in D.C. with the government affairs department of the Trevor Project, the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. The previous summer, thanks to a grant from the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, I interned with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress (CAP). At CAP, I worked with the stellar Kellan Baker ’04 researching sexual orientation and gender identity data collection in national health studies. In April 2015, when a former campaign colleague invited me to help get out the vote on an LGBTQ nondiscrimination campaign in Springfield, Mo., funding from the Dean’s Office and the Lang Center allowed me to take off a few days from class to organize in Missouri. It’s pretty cool that that was possible. After I graduate, I’m hoping to go into the world of LGBTQ-related policy, research, and communications, with a particular interest in sex education, healthcare, data collection, and youth/education. I’m also interested in continuing to work as a field organizer. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to attend? The history of queer life and organizing on campus. To the degree that Swarthmore’s LGBTQ community has been safe, welcoming, challenging, and thrilling for me, that’s thanks to the long line of queer and trans students, not to mention LGBTQ staff and faculty, who agitated. To the degree that homophobia and transphobia are embedded at Swarthmore just as they’re embedded in the rest of the world, I’m psyched that Swarthmore students care a whole lot about changing that. What’s your advice for incoming LGBTQ students? If you want things to happen at Swat, get together with people and make them happen. The increase in gender neutral bathrooms in residence halls—students in the Queer/Straight Alliance in 2013 organized for them. Swarthmore insurance covering transition-related hormone therapy as of this year—that’s because students voiced concerns to Director of Student Health and Wellness Alice Holland. Parties that center queer and trans students—we planned them (and cleaned all the glitter off the floor afterwards). The other thing I’d say is that older queer students really intimidated me as a wee lesbian. They were all cooler and queerer than me! Then, they became my mentors and my best friends. Do not be afraid of them! They are as awkward and weird as you are, and they probably want to be your friends. Mark Sherkow ’67 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? When I was a Swarthmore student from 1963–1967, I was pretty much into hiding from everyone the fact that I was gay. I did not personally know any LGBTQ students, teachers, or staff, and if there was any kind of LGBTQ community on campus, I did not know of it. This secretiveness about my sexuality had already been part of my life for several years by the time I came to Swarthmore. I had known of my gay feelings ever since I was 8 years old. When I was in junior high school I made three attempts to talk about this with fellow students, each time with a different male student, but I received no understanding or support from the students I told. One student ridiculed me—fortunately he did not attend the same school that I did—and in another case I lost the friendship of the classmate who had been my best friend. So after these junior high experiences, in high school I kept my sexual feelings a secret that I discussed with no one, and did not act on. At Swarthmore I started, very slowly, to come to terms with my sexuality. Initially I just kept my eyes and ears open to the issue of homosexuality whenever it appeared. When I was a freshman living in Wharton A section, “fag” was used as a term there to put down other guys. When I was a sophomore, I heard a story of an upperclassman who tried, anonymously, to entrap a freshman into meeting him for a sexual rendezvous, with the goal of exposing him. On the positive side, when I was a freshman I remember reading a big New York Times story about gay people in NYC. My first week of classes, while reading a political science article in the library, I looked up from the text at one point and found myself making eye contact with a fellow male student standing at the front reference desk. I went back to the reading, but the feeling I had was very intense. As the days passed I kept my eyes open for this person and eventually found out that he was a student two grades ahead of me. In the two years we were both at Swarthmore, I did approach him a couple of times when I saw an opportunity to discuss a very specific issue with him, but I could not tell him anything even close to what I really wanted to say to him. So I kept my secret; I simply could not let it out yet. Instead, I dated women students from time to time, but found that my sexual feelings remained homosexual. I was also dealing with issues of introversion and trying to “find myself” socially as well as to succeed academically. So I put the sexual issue on a back burner. When I was a sophomore, the administration announced it was bringing a psychological counselor to campus for one or two days a week to make up for not having any counseling service on campus. I considered going to see this person, but felt that I could not allow myself to be seen doing that. But I think Swarthmore making the counselor available did open me up to the possibility of seeing a counselor, and I did talk with a counselor the summer before my senior year at Swarthmore, and received some positive feedback. And in fact I did “make a pass” at a fellow student near the end of my senior year, and though the interest was not reciprocated, I think it was a positive step for me to have made the attempt. During my one year as a graduate student I did go to the school mental health office to discuss my sexuality and other issues, and in the summer of 1969—after my first year in the work world—I finally did “come out” and accept myself as a gay person. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? At Swarthmore I continued a process of finding myself that began for me in high school and continued after my time at Swarthmore. In high school I started to find myself academically and as someone who liked to participate in organized extracurricular activities. At Swarthmore I started to find myself socially, as a person who enjoyed talking with other people one to one, and as a person interested in ideas, the arts, and social issues; I also made some slow steps to start dealing with my sexuality. Finally in 1969 I started to find myself sexually and communally, as a gay man and a member of a vibrant LGBTQ community, and started the process of finding out what kind of work I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In terms of work, I started as a grade school teacher, in part to escape being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and in part because I did not know what else I wanted to do, workwise. I worked three years as a teacher and two years as an editor at an educational publisher; then worked at a hardware store for three months, a manufacturing company for five years, a distribution company for 23 years and finally a university for ten years. I have worked in the areas of customer service and quality management, and considered myself a “generalist” rather than a specialist in any one area. Outside of work, since Swarthmore I have been someone who goes to many concerts, plays, movies, exhibitions and lectures; has been an activist in several areas, serving on the boards of a community center, a church, a condo association, and a national men’s organization; and has been active in the arts as a singer in a gay chorus for almost 30 years. I feel that my Swarthmore education prepared me very well for the work-life I had as well as for my life outside of work. I had an interdepartmental major at Swarthmore—political science/international relations, which covered the disciplines of political science, history and economics. I also took classes outside my major, in areas such as English and “the Classics.” Most of my classes were small and many were led by top professors, such as Laurence Lafore, Samuel Hynes, Robert Keohane, and Fred Hargadon. At Swarthmore I watched and read about key issues of the ’60s—divestiture of American funds in South Africa because of its policy of apartheid; the civil rights struggle of African Americans, including against de facto segregation in housing and education in the north; the Vietnam War; and the rise of drugs and new music that was part of the “flower power” movement of the mid and late ’60s. Outside the classroom I went to lectures, movies on campus (a great series of classic French movies stands out in my mind) and plays. I was on the swim team for four years, worked in the area of student advising for a bit, and was in a fraternity for a semester. Swarthmore was an intellectual place with interesting students and professors, a place that encouraged people to be whole people, a place of activism, and through its Quaker background and the vibrancy of its students, a place of values. I feel that it prepared me well for the type of life that I lead and have enjoyed leading. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? I am proud that I was accepted to such an academically fine institution, and exposed to the students, teachers, and intellectual atmosphere I was exposed to. I am also very proud that I found a place that emphasizes the development of the whole person, including the Quaker values of peace and consensus decision-making. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I would say that college is a place where you can work on finding yourself and developing yourself, both in terms of a future work life and also in terms of interests, activities, values and over-all self-development. Diana "Teddy" Pozo ’09 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I actually came out as queer at Swarthmore, during the 2005 Tri-College Summer Multicultural Institute (Tri-Co). A few people in my hometown thought I might be gay, and it felt like this mysterious thing to me because I didn’t know a lot of out LGBT people. I basically told a fellow Tri-Co Swattie about some of my early experiences in high school and asked if she thought I might be queer. She was like sure! I think I was looking for someone to give me permission to come out. Swarthmore was my first experience of being in a queer community, having the opportunity to be a public queer person. I was a part of the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU), a closed activist group where I met most of my closest friends, and I helped found None of the Above (NOTA), a group for queer people who did not identify as monosexually gay or lesbian. I also wrote a weekly diary comic strip for The Phoenix that featured some of the issues my friends and I were facing academically and socially. Swarthmore also gave me the opportunity to study queer and feminist theory for the first time, and to study with LGBTQ professors. Patricia White’s Critical and Cultural Theory course inspired me to switch paths from the physics and astronomy department to do a double major in film and media studies (a special major at that time), and French literature. I also got the opportunity to study the slash fanfiction that fed me as a teen in Bob Rehak’s first ever Fan Studies seminar. Meeting Julie Levin-Russo ’01, a guest speaker in that seminar who was a graduate student at Brown, confirmed my budding ambition to apply for PhD programs in Film and Media Studies. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I am currently (November 2016) about to defend a dissertation in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara called Haptic Media, about the sense of touch in cinema, videogames, and virtual reality. The seed of the project was in a reading assigned by Patty White, from Laura U. Marks’s The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (2000). Marks identifies “haptic visuality,” a set of aesthetics that emphasize the tactile and intersubjective qualities of visual imagery, rather than the distant, “objective,” or penetrating gaze of much cinema. My project is interested in building from a set of feminist theories about tactility and affect in cinema, along with studies of media archaeology pointing to a long history of mechanical representations of touch, to begin to theorize our new media landscape under the rubric of the haptic, rather than the visual. As part of my work on haptic media, I study Internet-connected sex toys and the adult novelty industry. Working with Bob Rehak in the emerging field of Fan Studies also familiarized me with the work of Constance Penley, a pioneer of fan studies and porn studies, and one of my mentors at UCSB. Another part of my work is in the emerging field of queer videogame studies, and I co-organize the Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon), an event that brings together academics, game designers, journalists, and fans. I was honored to meet Claudia Lo ’15, a truly inspiring emerging scholar, at last year’s conference. Her excellent paper on Anna Anthropy’s Queers in Love at the End of the World (2013) is part of a forthcoming section I co-edited for the feminist film studies journal Camera Obscura! When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? I always found Swarthmore students to be genuinely inquisitive, earnestly passionate, and forthrightly assertive. Some of my proudest Swarthmore moments were watching students in dialog or debate with each other in the Intercultural Center, at the dining hall, or in the dorms until late at night, and seeing how close friends or near-strangers could engage each other so heatedly, yet (often) so respectfully. Through these tireless conversations around campus, I gained the tools to express myself and examine my own ideas. The ability to explain my opinions to people who disagree with me has been one of the most valuable lessons Swarthmore taught me. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I would say, “be gentle with yourself.” As part of preparing Swarthmore students for the difficulties we would face both on and off campus, former dean Robert Gross had students in my year recite the saying, “No matter what you say or do to me, I am still a worthwhile person.” But I struggled more with self-criticism than with the criticisms of others. Like many young queer people, I carried around a secret weight of shame that led me to isolate myself and idealize other people, even people I did not know. I would say two other things as well. First, other people are struggling just like you, going through things you do not even know about. Second, you have time. Swarthmore is just the beginning of your adult life. Anything else you’d like to say? I guess I would like to thank all the students and professors I knew at Swarthmore for being a part of the community that allowed me to be queer for the first time. I want to thank everyone who taught me, and everyone who supported and tolerated my intense emotions, everyone who helped me through hard times, and who shared their hard times with me, and everyone who has stayed in touch or reached out over the years. Shoshana Kerewsky ’83 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I entered college already out of the closet, so the big question for me was not “Who am I?” but “What will my life be like here?” I had looked forward to college for several years, in part because of the promise of a larger LGBTQI community, or, as it was called then, “GLB.” I was very happy to meet other lesbian-, gay-, and bi-identified students, though I was surprised that there were so few. Several are people I continue to have friendships with, though AIDS took the first gay person I met on campus, Frederic Evans ’82, who became a very dear friend whom I still miss daily. I experienced only support from my RAs, faculty, and administration, in particular Janet Smith Dickerson H’92, who was, I think, an associate dean at the time. I had mixed experiences with other students, ranging from supportive and interested (for example, people in my residence halls and student organizations) to frightening aggression (for example, when lesbian friends received rape threats, or when a pair of jeans was burned as an effigy on a “wear jeans gay pride” day). I was chosen as my class graduation speaker, an affirmation that still moves me greatly. Most of my classmates stood to applaud after I spoke, and some didn’t stand or applaud. Then and now, I support this as a way to express their stance. I wish it weren’t so, but it was a licit expression of disagreement, and I respect its civility. That was my last experience as a Swarthmore student, and I think it’s emblematic of my experience there. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m a psychologist and university faculty member. The majority of my students are undergraduates, and I strive to give them the experience I had in college—respect for their opinions, assistance supporting or challenging those opinions critically, careful listening, acknowledgement that we don’t all have the same backgrounds or resources, and the expectation that they will work hard to learn and incorporate the college experience into their future lives. I love teaching my graduate students as well, but my passion is for undergraduate education. Many of my undergraduates have considerably less privilege and less family and community stability than I did when I was an undergraduate. I try to facilitate their sense that college belongs to them, that they are legitimate as students and in the college community, and that they can and should critique the institution, the assumptions of their majors, and how they are being taught. It’s good to be a faculty member who is as engaged, and as exhausted by that engagement, as I was as a Swarthmore student. Swarthmore was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, even with the upsetting, awful, and scary moments that are part of any intense experience. I hope my students’ college years are as meaningful as mine were, both in and out of the classroom. As a Swarthmore student, I benefited from some excellent psychotherapy. At the times when I’ve practiced professional psychology, my caseload has usually been about 25 percent LGBTQI and about 50 percent at reduced fee. Social justice, inclusion, and advocacy are important values Swarthmore helped me refine and which I bring to my work. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? “Proudest” is an interesting term. While it does resonate for me, I would say instead that I was “relieved” to go to Swarthmore. I am proudest to have participated in many different communities and groups while I was there, and to see the positive change we continue to make in the world. I am also proud of graduating from Swarthmore with a B average. I would have liked to earn an A, but I took classes that stretched me, including Classical Greek, where I worked very hard for a passing grade, a Pascal programming course, and an honors seminar on Chomskyan linguistics. I also spent a lot of time working in student groups and on the literary magazine. I still agree with these priorities. It’s also fun to tell my students that my average was a B. I’ve had several who have told me that they only realized they could apply for graduate programs when I told them I was not a straight-A college student. I’m proud that my non-stellar grades give my students courage. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? Take some classes at Haverford and Bryn Mawr as well. Go to Meeting more frequently. Spend more time hanging out with Buddhists. Anything else you’d like to say? I’m responding to these questions right after the presidential election. I notice that I have some fear and hesitation based on my concern that I and people like me will be targeted and harmed. I hope this isn’t true, and I believe that one way to keep it as untrue as possible is for all of us to work together to create safe, engaged communities, both on campus and off. Andrew Dorrance ’15 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I participated a little bit in SQU as a freshman and sophomore, but I unfortunately wasn’t able to participate very much during my last two years. In my English and Spanish classes, I found myself constantly writing about gender and sexuality. Also, the summer after my Junior Year I was lucky enough to receive a grant from Swarthmore to research LGBT social movements in Buenos Aires. At the end of that summer, I realized how interested I was in learning about Queer issues. I even decided to add a last-minute gender and sexuality studies minor my senior year. When I started Swarthmore, I very reluctantly talked about being gay. It was something that I really hadn’t come to terms with. However, as I became more comfortable with who I was, I found more confidence and love for myself. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I am currently teaching English on a Fulbright in Mexico. Swarthmore helped me develop my interest in languages and education. I was a Spanish major, English minor, and gender and sexuality studies minor. I’m grateful for all of my professors and how much they have supported me. Fulbright also requires that we complete a side project that lets us become more involved in the community. The local Secretary of Public Education found out that I studied GSST, and they asked me to give presentations on gender equality. So far, I’ve given a presentation on feminism to a group of principals and another presentation at a conference on gender equality for high school students. My coworkers heard about my conference presentation, and now they want me to spend a day giving the same presentation to the entire school. I’m excited for the opportunity to talk about these important issues. In some of my classes, I have been teaching lessons on feminism and LGBT issues. My students have been very receptive to these ideas, and it shows me how important it is to talk about these issues. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? My fellow Swatties truly make me proud to be a Swarthmore student. I see the incredible work that they have done since leaving, it inspires me to do better. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I would tell myself to worry less. Swarthmore is a very stressful place, but that doesn’t have to define us. Anything else you want to add? I would also tell myself that it’s a good idea to meet new people. As a Freshman and Sophomore, I mostly stuck with the same group of friends. While they are still dear friends of mine, I realized how important it was to branch out. My junior and senior year, I met a lot of wonderful people, and I’m grateful that I was able to develop such strong friendships later in college. Matthew Armstead ’08 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I came to college soon after coming out to my family and my family was not supportive. So, my first experience at Swarthmore was also my first months out as a queer person. What I remember the most is that I felt supported. That support allowed me to quickly move into a leadership role (as an advocate for LGBTQ students). I was a part of starting gender-neutral housing on campus. I think Swarthmore had some form of it in a building called PPR but it wasn’t accessible and no one really knew about it. When we approached the administration about starting gender-neutral housing they said they didn’t know how to do it. Then they said they needed to form a committee. So it took about three years. [laughs] But the administration did try to help the staff and faculty really understand why it was needed and why it was important. I remember being in the locksmith’s office and getting keys for some random thing. No one knew who I was, or, that I was leading this effort. Another staff person walked in and was telling the locksmith that they didn’t understand why gender-neutral housing was needed and they didn’t know why it was so important. And the locksmith just very clearly explained the whole thing to the staff person about why the college was doing this and what it meant. That memory really stands out. I was president of SQU and there were sub groups that came from that. I think we had to learn reliance and trust for those of us who were coming out. But one of the questions I faced was how to share some of the responsibility of running those groups. I had to recognize that (my friends and fellow students who were working on these issues with me) actually didn’t need me as a leader to delegate, they just needed me to stop and sit down with them. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I recently started graduate school and received the Jonathan Lax scholarship for gay men, one from the ACLU for LGBT people and one from Swarthmore. It feels like I am being supported in an ongoing way. Currently I am a student with Pig Iron Theater Company and doing training with Training for Change. I work with many different groups of people who are involved in activism – everyone from students, to people who are in unions, to different faith-based groups. We train how to notice the experience they are having and mine it for wisdom. This helps them embrace conflict, increase accountability, and build powerful campaigns. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? There’s a lot. There is so much, really. I feel proud how the queer community became more vibrant and diverse and expressive, both while I was there, and, in the time since I have graduated. Groups like Colors became more visible as did QSA and SQU. Other groups started to emerge, such as None Of The Above (NOTA) for students who didn’t identify as gay or straight. I was proud to help actively support the trans issues – pushing for housing and an inclusive non- discrimination policy. I think it helped to make gender fluidity more central in the way we understand it now in the Swarthmore community. Just that overall sense of community building. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I think part of me would say, great job. But looking back, I think I also would tell myself that I could have leaned into others more, and, given myself more time to process the experience that I was having as someone who just came out. My wish for myself would be that I could reach out to other people. I would just say, slow down and talk to others more. I put the needs of others first, and my own identity second, because I found a new thing (being an advocate for LGBTQ rights) to focus on. But back then I didn’t take the space I needed to understand and respect myself. Today I have shifted, but I still do need to remind myself to slow down. Anything else you’d like to say? One thing I have noticed in my work is that there seems to be a trend in higher education in which current students are encouraged to rely on administrators much more so than when I was in college. So, they lean and look for that approval and they don’t get their own footing. They need to learn how to stand on their own and learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Finding their own voice in relation to power figures. Timothy Stewart-Winter ’01 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I came out during my first year of college. At the time, I very much embraced a “queer” identity, and I quickly became very out and visible on campus. The admissions office, under Robin Mamlet, allowed students of color and LGBTQ students to write admissions brochures in our own voices, and I was very involved in writing the text for Queer and Questioning at Swarthmore. Julie Levin Russo ’00 and I had an argument over whether to pitch the brochure at students who were already out or those who were still closeted (as I’d been, in high school). We compromised, and did a little of both. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’m a history professor, and I specialize in the political history of sexuality and gender. My history teachers at Swarthmore very much influenced my career direction and continue to be among the scholars whose perspectives I value the most. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? I think my favorite thing about Swarthmore has always been that, for an elite and excellent institution, it’s relatively unpretentious. I’m pretty skeptical of institutions as a general rule, but I think Swarthmore is an institution whose faculty and leaders have often tried to do right by the world and by marginalized people. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I think I might suggest more seriously considering study abroad. I took Mandarin Chinese at Swarthmore and I was good at it, but I was pretty fearful that I wouldn’t be able to deal with being gay while studying abroad in China. It was the right decision at the time, but I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d made a different one. Tatiana Maria Cozzarelli ’08 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? Having gone to a Catholic high school in Virginia, which was pretty homophobic and very right wing, Swarthmore was a breath of fresh air. I think I smiled nonstop my entire first semester. It was the first time in my life that I could feel open and proud of being queer; it was where I was able to think more deeply about LGBT issues politically and form community with people who went through similar struggles as I did in terms of coming out as a queer Latina. I also had some great professors who were able to support me in coming out to my parents. With that said, I did experience homophobia at Swarthmore, from administrators and from students. It was certainly masked and not explicit, but an underlying tone of homophobia was still there. That felt like a betrayal of a “safe space,” but also showed me that while homophobia and transphobia (as well as the racist capitalist system that profits from it) exists systemically, nowhere is totally safe. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I am currently getting a PhD in Urban Education at CUNY and am an editor and writer for Left Voice, a radical left website. Swarthmore was helpful in making a better critical thinker and better writer, which I use both in my role with Left Voice and in graduate school. Left Voice is part of an international network of Left websites- in 12 countries and 5 languages. At Swarthmore, I was able to take Latin American studies classes that informed my understanding of Latin American politics, as well as world politics. I was also able to take Spanish classes that enables me to read in Spanish and translate from Spanish to English. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? Swarthmore was very important in my formation as a person, especially as a young queer person. For that I am very grateful to have been given such a privileged space to do that. With that said, I don’t feel like I can feel proud to have gone to Swarthmore until Swarthmore truly reflects social justice; I can only feel proud of it when it puts its immense knowledge and resources at the service of the community. For one, I think the college should be free and public. It should be open without restriction to the children of working class and poor people. Furthermore, it should reflect the racial and economic diversity of Philadelphia. I for one, am still paying off my student loans from my Swarthmore education almost 10 years later. So even though I learned a lot and certainly appreciated my time there, I can’t feel proud of an institution with such vast contradictions. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I would tell myself to take more history classes because the past is the key to understanding the present and there are some fantastic history professors at Swarthmore. I would also tell myself to go to Philadelphia more often; Swarthmore really is a bubble and the city is vast and full of interesting opportunities. Particularly, I would tell myself to get involved in activism in Philadelphia. I would also say to pay more attention to the role of the working class in capitalism, because they the most powerful sector in society and the key to social change. Roger Latham ’83 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I picked Swarthmore (it was the only college I applied to) for many reasons: academic, philosophical, geographical and social. One big one was a sense of excitement that I had found an environment where I was almost certain I could be open about my sexuality to anyone and everyone, for the very first time in my life. (Parenthetically, I was an unconventional student, officially a transfer. I had gone to a monstrously big university at age 18 and in a year realized it wasn’t for me. Instead of transferring, I worked in the “real world” for 11 years. It was always my intention to go back to college and then to grad school for a Ph.D. I started at Swarthmore as a 30-year-old sophomore. By that age living in a dorm was out of the question, and I bought a small house in Wallingford. Luckily I’ve always looked young for my age so even though my fellow students sensed I was a little older, they thought it was just by a couple years so the age gap made little difference in my social life. I am eternally grateful to Wallace Ayres ’64 and the rest of the admissions office for two truly momentous things: accepting me as a student despite my unconventional background, and doing a terrific job of vetting and bringing together some of the most important people in my life.) One of the first things I did when I arrived in September 1980 was write a note addressed to the LGBTQ student organization (no internet or email then) asking to meet and get acquainted with one or more members so I could ask about the organization’s activities and when and where they had meetings. Another thing I did that first month was get an appointment with Dean Janet Dickerson H’92 to tell her my hopes about being out to my entire community for the first time ever and ask if she had my back. A huge step, and nerve-racking for me, but she was supportive in a way that left no doubt that she really meant it. Before coming to Swarthmore I had briefly belonged to one LGBTQ organization, but its focus was on mutual support in order to cope with life in the 1970s as a gay man, and I had little contact with members outside of meetings. The Swarthmore student organization’s focus was much more positive and action-oriented. Some of the men and women I met there became lifelong friends, including, most importantly, the love of my life—Stephen Demos ’84—the man I’ve shared the last 35 years with, and who owns my heart forever. In hindsight, Swarthmore’s LGBTQ community introduced Steve and me to activism, helping instill a sense of responsibility to do something positive to better the lot of all LGBTQ people, not just ourselves and our friends. When we arrived at Swarthmore in 1980, I’m not sure either of us expected that outcome. Going in, we just knew we needed to feel a part of an LGBTQ circle of friends for our own well-being. We got a lot more than we bargained for, and it was incredibly enriching, even (or maybe especially) the hard parts, such as responding to occasional displays of blatant homophobia by a small minority of Swarthmore students. United we stood; as lone individuals it would have been too scary. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? My Swarthmore experience was profound in so many ways that it pervades everything I’ve done professionally since graduation—starting with a six-year biology Ph.D. program at Penn, then a four-year stint as scientist and land steward at the Pennsylvania office of The Nature Conservancy, next a four-year post-doc at Penn in geology, and then four years back at my alma mater as assistant professor of ecology. All were incredibly challenging and rewarding experiences, made possible in various ways by my growth while at Swarthmore. I was a scientist wannabe from age 6, but it wasn’t until my Swarthmore education that I truly began to understand at a gut level the philosophy and mechanics of the scientific method, one of Homo sapiens’s most momentous brainchildren. If anything, even more challenging and rewarding, for the last 17 years I’ve been fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a self-employed consultant in conservation biology and restoration ecology. My clients include the national office and individual parks of the National Park Service, state natural resource agencies across the Mid-Atlantic region, The Nature Conservancy and many other large and small land conservation organizations, and institutions like the Tyler Arboretum and Swarthmore College itself. The embryos of Swarthmore’s liberal arts and social responsibility philosophies grew inside of me before I became a student there but during my years at the college they matured into rock-solid foundations of my life. I took a big pay cut when I resigned from my teaching job at the college to set off on my own, but ironically my earlier experience as a student there most likely was a key factor in mustering the courage to follow my heart. The lion’s share of credit is due the unwavering support of my spouse. My appreciation of, and commitment to, social responsibility was honed by my Swarthmore experience and has fueled a longtime devotion to volunteer service. My first serious volunteer commitment after graduation was at the William Way LGBT Community Center, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, which at that time was all-volunteer. Steve quickly followed. At first we helped there mainly in a “grunt” capacity—for instance, moving furniture, driving the moving truck, and helping with framing, drywall and other construction when the organization moved to new headquarters. Steve took on more and more leadership responsibilities and soon became a member of the board of directors. My role then evolved into sidekick, cheerleader, and source of morale support for him in that crucial work. We spent about six years volunteering there before moving on. For the last 20 years or so my volunteer work has been mainly related to my own field, conservation biology, in the form of giving professional advice to nonprofit conservation organizations, serving on advisory committees to state agencies and nonprofits, and serving on the board of trustees of a regional conservation land trust. I am the founding chair of the environmental advisory council of my hometown of the last 25 years (Rose Valley, a mile west of Swarthmore’s campus) and for the past 2 years I’ve served as president of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization of 150 scientists and natural resource professionals whose responsibilities include determining the conservation status (endangered, threatened, etc.) of all native species of animals, plants and other organisms in the state and providing advice and guidance to state and federal conservation and natural resource management agencies on biodiversity conservation and endangered species recovery. Ever since college, whenever I’ve found myself in a leadership role the influence of Quaker process in my Swarthmore education comes to the fore. As a Swarthmore student it was a revelation to me that effective leadership is rarely of the command-and-control variety. I give much credit to my experience at Swarthmore, including the LGBTQ organization meetings, for my ability to put heedful listening, gentle persuasion, and consensus building to productive use in my work and elsewhere in my life. When you look at Swarthmore, what makes you proudest to have attended? In my eyes Swarthmore is literally an awesome institution. Amazingly dedicated people, incredibly beautiful campus, and fabulous natural resources, especially the Crum Woods and Crum Creek. I’m proud as can be to have been a student there, to have had the privilege of teaching there, and to know and have known so many extraordinary students, professors, and staff people from my association with the place. The fact that I met the most important person in my life there when we were fellow students sometimes makes me feel as though my heart might burst with gratitude to the institution for bringing us together. Regarding my teaching stint, I have mixed feelings about how much I contributed to my students’ lives. In my short three years teaching full-time I felt I hadn’t quite yet fully found my “groove” as a teacher at the level of quality students should expect at Swarthmore. But I am proud of some of my teaching accomplishments, including collaborations with several students on research projects that later were published in professional journals and some new experiences I introduced my students to that I know were formative and even transformative, at least for some. I may never know to what extent being an out gay scientist at a top teaching institution might have made a difference in any gay science majors’ lives. One specific contribution is something I have much pride in, maybe to a fault. In 2000 I completed a white paper titled The Crum Woods in Peril: Toward Reversing the Decline of an Irreplaceable Resource for Learning, Research, Recreation and Reflection. I circulated it widely across the college community and made a request to provost Jennie Keith that she consider creation of an ad hoc Crum Woods Stewardship Committee. She did so and the committee soon sprang into action. They persuaded the college to contract with consultants to undertake the planning effort that I lobbied for in my white paper. By this time I had launched my full-time consulting business, and—you guessed it—I, in partnership with the nonprofit Natural Lands Trust, won the contract. Three years later my collaborators and I, with help and input from hundreds of stakeholders, completed the Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods of Swarthmore College. Recently the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee was upgraded in status from ad hoc to permanent. The committee, including Director of Grounds and Coordinator of Horticulture Jeff Jabco, together with Jeff’s staff, are accomplishing many of the objectives outlined in the 2003 plan. If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? My three years as a student at Swarthmore were so nearly perfect in many ways, not least because I had a certain maturity and strong sense of purpose from having 11 years as an independent adult making a living under my belt, that I’m struggling to find an answer to this question. Seth Brenzel ’94 What was your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community at Swarthmore? I arrived at Swarthmore in fall of 1990. I had already come out of the closet to my parents and family and some friends, but I was still coming out. (One of the things that’s interesting about coming out is it’s a lifelong process.) I was one of the folks in my class who was first out and came to Swarthmore looking for an LGBT community. I went to meetings above Tarble and Bond, where I met a nice group of people who were extremely welcoming and positive. At that time, identity politics were extremely important on campus. There was a lot of AIDS activism in that group but also in the greater culture. And I will say that I wasn’t looking to act politically in that moment, I was looking for friends and community, and I remember feeling both excited and daunted. That group also organized a lot of trips into Philly to go to LGBT dances and that was great, and of course there was the annual Sager Symposium. I often thought those first two years the Swarthmore LGBT group was few and proud. The group was called “AS IS”—Alternative Sexualities Integrated at Swarthmore. That name makes me laugh now: In some ways it’s super positive but when you buy cars or houses or products, “AS IS” can have a negative connotation, so looking back, I think it was not the best name to promote positive identity. The group went through two names changes while I was there. The next name it had was “Action Les-B-Gay”, and this I think encapsulated the idea that the group was really about taking political action. In 1990, it wasn’t a sure thing that gay folks would start getting civil rights, and it was the height of the AIDS crisis in terms of people dying. The group and the folks who were coming to the group wanted to change the focus to political action and advocacy. During my time at Swarthmore, we also became part of the Intercultural Center and there were a number of people in classes ahead of me involved in helping us get that space and build that out. That was the other part of my Swarthmore LGBT experience, this connection to members of other identity groups, in particular the Latina/Latino and Asian-American communities. I met a lot of friends through those groups. It was sometimes challenging because we were trying to figure out all our own identities and how we connected to each other, how our experiences were similar and different, how we could be allies. There was a lot of goodwill around that. That was a very positive experience for me. My senior year, my friend and I took over the leadership of the group, the called the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU). It was a very formative experience for me, and we worked on expanding the community of LGBT folks. Swarthmore did a nice job as an institution of providing some opportunities for me to practice leadership and build relationships and coalitions, but it was also a challenging and fraught time for the LGBT community. There were acts of hate speech that happened while we were there. What are you doing now and how did your Swarthmore experience influence that? I’ve done a number of different things, career-wise—I run a summer musical festival and camp for kids and adults, but I also received a graduate degree in business, and have also worked in consulting, as well as Internet software sales and marketing. In addition, I’m a singer, which I do now professionally with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. I landed there partly because I had such a great experience singing in the chorus under John Alston at Swarthmore and wanted to continue that after graduating. I ended up meeting my future husband through that chorus, because he also joined. We met 21 years ago and have been married for various numbers of years, depending on which marriage you count. [laughs] We’ve been married to each other three different times. The first time we got married, we stood in line here in San Francisco around City Hall for 8 hours in the rain during a weekend in 2004 when our mayor had made it legal for gay folks to get married. It became an act of political will and courage and standing up. I think about the ways in which some of the activism and activity and leadership at Swarthmore probably led to me standing in line with my future husband, with some other Swatties, by the way. I remember running into friends of mine from other classes that day, and thinking of ways in which we were all predisposed to that kind of activism. A lot of people I went to college with at Swarthmore were always going to stick up for other people and social justice and fairness and equal treatment. You’re also a dad, right? Yes, let’s add that to the list. [laughs] We adopted a child five years ago. Her name is Cora. This is something I also think I started realizing and really was exposed to at Swarthmore, but the idea that the personal is political—the choices to get married, to have a partner for a long time, to become parents are personal choices, but in the context of the broader society, you can’t divorce yourself from the ways in which becoming a parent was/is also a political act. There are also ways in which parenting for us is just changing diapers and going to parent teacher conferences. [laughs] Ninety-seven percent of the time, it’s just that, and you don’t think about anything else. But you do think about it when you walk onto a playground with a bunch of other parents, and you notice that maybe there aren’t a lot of other kids with same-sex parents. How does that feel for your daughter? How does it feel for us? Our choice to be parents wasn’t a political act in the first instance. Still, we’re bringing up this amazing daughter and we’re thrilled to be able to do it, and I’ve connected with some of my other gay dads from Swarthmore. I love being a dad. It’s the most exhausting job I’ve ever had. It’s totally overwhelming and I love every minute of it … except when I don’t. [laughs] If you had it to do over, what advice would you give your younger self? I got to Swarthmore, and I just assumed I wouldn’t participate in sports. It was a time when participating in sports and being openly gay wasn’t done, so even though I’d played varsity baseball in high school and loved it, I was worried sports wouldn’t be a friendly environment for me as a gay man. I regret that I never gave it a shot, and I would advise anyone to just push through whatever door you find. If you have an inkling you want to do something, go for it! Anything else you’d like to say? I want to give some shout-outs to: President Al Bloom, deans like Janet Dickerson H’92, Bob Gross, and Ted Gundy—long-serving members of the staff who really trying to make the place more welcoming and accepting. To Board member James Hormel ’55, who would come to our meetings and events. To Richard Sager ’74 and everyone involved in the Sager Symposium over the years. I think about these people who were trying to create a supportive environment and to make it better for anyone after them in whatever small or big way they could. I couldn’t have fully appreciated it when I was 18, but now, looking back, I think how lucky we were and are to have those folks trailblazing.