TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.




Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

Air Force Academy’s alumni group cancels Veterans Day dinner honoring history of LGBT service in AF

This breaking news is not only discriminatory, it’s simply a no-class decision by the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates.

OutServe, the network of actively serving gay and lesbian military members, was to be the sponsor and host the dinner along with Blue Alliance, an organization of gay and lesbian alumni of the Air Force Academy. The deposits on location had been made — the organizations had an agreement with the Association of Graduates to use the Association of Graduates building on Air Force Academy property for the event, and invitations had already been extended to Congress members, allied military officers, and leaders in the lesbian and gay community.

Just so Blenders know, Outserve had invited me to the event as a supportive member of the LGBT blogging community. I was looking forward to the dinner to honor those who have served in silence and to be able to liveblog the event for you. Now that’s not going to happen. Here’s why. (Denver Post):

A spokesman said the event placed the school’s leadership in the tough spot of appearing to endorse repeal of the current ban, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The turnabout has set off a fusillade of charges and countercharges, focusing attention on the institution that is known as the most conservative of the service academies just as the military studies the possibility of welcoming openly gay fighters.

A spokesman for the group OutServe, one of the dinner’s sponsors whose members include gay Air Force Academy graduates currently serving, called the cancelation “blatant discrimination.” The event was meant not as a political statement but to recognize the contribution of gays and lesbians to the country’s armed forces, said the spokesman, who is a lieutenant in the active-duty military.

Gary Howe, executive vice president of the alumni association – known as the Association of Graduates – said the groups are trying to embarrass the Air Force Academy at a delicate moment in the debate. “To think that holding such an event on the United States Air Force Academy (campus) would not be political, I think they’re blowing smoke,” Howe said.

Howe’s comment is ridiculous – his problem is the dinner would have highlighted service by those in the Air Force who put their lives on the line for this country, even at the risk of being discharged for reasons that have nothing to do with performance or patriotism. The Air Force should be embarrassed at DADT, and holding the dinner would at least suggest that understands this sacrifice. It is turning the page and facing reality.

“At a time when we’re honoring veterans, we wanted to recognize probably the most ignored veterans in our country: gays and lesbians,” said OutServe’s active-duty co-director, who goes by the pseudonym JD Smith. “It was made clear this dinner was not to be an event regarding ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ it was to be a night to honor the LGBT history in the Air Force. All in attendance would fully comply with Air Force policy – including ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ ” A program outlining the dinner was sent to the administration to assure the association that the dinner was not to be political in nature.

“Veterans Day is for all veterans, including gays and lesbians,” stated Ty Walrod, co-director of OutServe. “Intentional or not, this sends a message that their sacrifices were not, and are not, valued. OutServe members who are currently serving their country, the Air Force Academy graduates, and most importantly all those who have given their lives in defense of this country who happened to be gay or lesbian, deserve better.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright