LGBTQ+ 30th Reunion
Denison Pride, Denison University’s LGBTQ+ alumni network, celebrated its 30th anniversary over the weekend of March 29, with a slate of events, panel discussions, and the announcement of two generous gifts in support of the college’s LGBTQ+ students and programs. Nearly 60 Denison alumni from the classes of 1965 to the present returned to campus.
In addition, Biology Professor Emerita Julie Mulroy, English Professor Emerita Anne Shaver, and Religion Professor David Woodyard were honored with Founder’s Awards for their early contributions to Denison Pride as faculty allies.
Rick Carson ’65 and Don Wenzel ’84 announced gifts that will support LGBTQ+ students, faculty and programs. The Rick Carson, Class of 1965, Pride in Who You Are Opportunity Fund can be used creatively and expansively to support LGBTQ+ students. The goal of the fund is to enable LGBTQ students to fully benefit from a Denison education and be successfully launched into compassionate, engaged lives after college.
The Donald G. Wenzel Jr. Scholarship Fund will provide need-based student scholarship assistance to students who have demonstrated leadership, advocacy and passionate support for the LGBTQ+ community. This is an endowed scholarship, renewable throughout the student’s tenure at Denison as long as they are enrolled full-time and continue to qualify for financial aid.
“And we also celebrated Denison’s deeply progressive story on LGBTQ+ issues and the vibrancy of LGBTQ+ Denison today.”
“The anniversary weekend was both joyous and substantive,” said Jeffrey Masten ’86, Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University, and a member of the Denison Board of Trustees. “We talked clearly about a sometimes difficult past history. We explored with current and recent student leaders areas where we need to put our attention next. And we also celebrated Denison’s deeply progressive story on LGBTQ+ issues and the vibrancy of LGBTQ+ Denison today.”
In addition to the announcement of the two funds, highlights of the weekend included a tour of the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts; a student and faculty art exhibition, titled Big Queer Art Show, that brought together more than 100 members of the community for a social mixer; and four panel discussions:
- Out in the Workplace: LGBTQ+ Issues and Careers
- Our Stories So Far: Denison’s LGBTQ+ History
- Denison’s Queer Studies Program: History, Curriculum, Futures, with faculty leaders of the program,
- Imagining Next Chapters: Denison’s LGBTQ+ Futures, featuring current and recent leaders of Outlook, Denison’s LGBTQ+ student and allies organization.
Dr. Tim Ewing ’89, Vice President of Employee Diversity, Inclusion, and Experience at Boston-area Brigham Health, also led an interactive group workshop on “intersectionality.” Ewing helped participants explore the ways in which gender, race, social class, sexuality, and other categories overlap and inflect individual identities and perceptions of others.
At the weekend’s concluding banquet, Denison Pride celebrated three decades of alumni involvement with the college. Masten honored late Music Emeritus Professor Lee Bostian for his pioneering visibility as a gay faculty member in the 1980s and remembered group co-founder Tom Bassett ’78.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” current-season star and Columbus-area philanthropist Nina West (aka Andrew Levitt ’01) greeted banquet attendees with a welcome video. West paid moving tribute to the night’s honorees, Mulroy, Shaver, and Woodyard, as guiding faculty mentors during Levitt’s years on campus.
Denison Pride was founded in the late 1980s as the Denison Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Alumni/ae Association (GLBAA). The group subsequently added “transgender” to its name to become the GLBTAA and, in 2016, became Denison Pride.
Denison Pride’s mission is to ensure students of every sexual orientation and gender identity feel welcome and safe at Denison, to (re)connect LGBTQ+ alums with the college and with one another, to partner with faculty, staff and administration in fostering a climate of inclusion that celebrates and understands the complexity of diversity at Denison, and to provide connections and resources to enable students in their lives after graduation.