Out at Cal

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I came out while a graduate student here at Berkeley in the late 1970s. It was a lively time, with a great presence of openly gay people on campus, and some very real political issues to fight for, including one that touched me directly: Senator John Briggs's initiative to ban gays from teaching in public schools in California. That made me come out as a GSI to my classes so that the undergraduates could know they had had a gay teacher. It was a warm and welcoming environment in which to take this step. It seemed momentous at the time, but now seems so easy and obvious. Why would I ever have wanted people to think I wasn't gay?
Davitt Moroney, Professor; University Organist; Director, University Baroque Ensemble, Department of Music. At Cal since 2001.
Cathy McIntosh
I came to Cal as a student in 1973 and came to Cal as a staff member in 1987. Jessea Greenman and I co-founded LeGaSEE (the original name of the organization that is now called LavenderCal) on October 11, 1989, at the National Coming Out Day rally in Sproul Plaza and I ended up with my picture on the front page of the Daily Cal the next day. Good thing that I had come out to my bosses at my new job when I got back from the rally! Happy 25th Birthday, LeGaSEE/LeTsGaB/LavenderCal!!
Cathy McIntosh, Various roles through 2013, Various departments through 2013. At Cal since 1987.
I just arrived and this is the first queer thing I found - certainly didn't exist anywhere else I've taught so far!
Katrin Wehrheim, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics. At Cal since 2013.
For me, my job at Cal is an extension of who I am – I am a queer woman and, at Cal, I liaise with queer students and the Health Services, teach classes, and manage an HIV prevention grant. I love what I do, and I am passionate about the health of all students, but I particularly enjoy helping LGBTQIA students with their health needs because we are such an under-resourced population. Cal students inspire me with their passion and motivation, and I feel really lucky to be part of their educational experience.
Sarah Gamble, Health Educator, University Health Services. At Cal since 2008.
On my first day of college at UCLA in 1983, walking fresh faced off the bus and onto campus, the first person I ran into was the Coach. That's what everyone called him. He was a thin, elderly African American man who wore a white tennis outfit, shorts and a sweater. He smiled warmly as he looked me directly in the eye, and welcomed me to UCLA and asked if this was my first day. I told him yes. He gave me more words of encouragement and wished me well as I went to my first class. I later met other nervous 18 year old African Americans who were also greeted by The Coach. I'd see him periodically during most of my years at UCLA. Such supportive figures are important. In later years while in college, I finally came to terms with my sexuality. I wrote about queer issues in commentaries that were published in the Daily Bruin and 10 Percent, UCLA's long time, award winning queer publications. After coming out, I wanted to help make it easier for others to do so, just as The Coach made the large UCLA campus more welcoming for African American students. Even in Law School, where I've worked for over 20 years, it's important to have a presence and to represent. Even if only to say hi. And I've always been happy to do so.
Gregory A. Russell aka Gar, Director of Operations, Berkeley Law. At Cal since 1989.
I spent a couple decades being Out at UCLA so now I'm trying out being Out at Cal.
David Secor, Chief Financial Officer, Intercollegiate Athletics. At Cal since 2013.
I'm proud to be a Cal Alum, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and to work with outstanding undergrads and my wonderful colleagues, offering support and insight from my experiences. Please feel free to reach out to me ~ I have a great campus network at my disposal, and yours!
Nancy Finkle, Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Advising - Evaluation/Graduation Unit, College of Letters & Science. At Cal since 1996.
More often than not, these days it strikes me that being out is a non-issue. And then a student will come to office hours, visit, pause, swallow, and then mention a partner, or mom-and-her-partner. And I'm reminded again that being out is not about me, it's about creating a welcoming place for gay students and for the sons and daughters of gay parents.
Martha L. Olney, Adjunct Professor, Department of Economics. At Cal since 1992.
I'm proud and honored to be a Cal staffer! It's refreshing to find a workplace/organization that is so welcoming! Recently, on 9/27/2013 due to the change in laws, and Marriage Equity becoming the norm rather than the exception or the dream for some, I have wedded my life partner, and it's amazing to live in such a time as this!
Mr. David Aaron Needleman, Business Technical Support Analyst, Campus Shared Services. At Cal since 2012.
I'm an Adviser here - my dream job! It's a privilege and joy to help Cal students achieve their dreams. As a bisexual woman, Cal will always have a special place in my heart - this is where I came out of the closet as a student. It's wonderful to see students today being out, loud, and proud. I also feel that we have a long way to go to make sure that all of our school spaces are safe for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or the way you dress. We also have to continue to raise awareness of how other areas of life, like race and class, affect the LGBTQI community!
Torey Bookstein, College Adviser, Office of Undergraduate Advising, College of Letters & Science. At Cal since 2005.
When I was in college, almost nobody was "out." There was a lot of pressure to conform to societal expectations, and I did. In fact, I was married until I was 42. I didn't figure out that I was gay until I had a "mid-life crisis," when I finally gave myself permission to act on my previously inhibited inclinations so that I actually could figure it out. Coming out to myself and then to my wife and kids was probably the most difficult thing I ever did. But once I did, I felt enormously relieved to be able to "be myself" at last. After that everything got easier. Most of my friends and colleagues were very supportive, and now I'm out to everyone, including my students. I think it's important for other people to know who we are -- once we've been brave enough to be who we are -- because much of American society is still homophobic. Thankfully, it's now a lot easier for young people today to come out, especially in the ultra-liberal Bay Area, so I highly recommend figuring it out early, so you can enjoy the rest of your life.
Stephen Palmer, Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology. At Cal since 1974.
I came out while working as a fundraiser at WGBH public broadcasting in Boston. A new LGBT staff group was launched in the early 1990s - one of a handful of such employee groups in the area - and I was one of the first members. When I escaped New England winters and was fortunate to land at Berkeley, I sought out LavenderCal and am glad for it. As a staff member who has a visual impairment and is a lesbian, I feel comfortable here.
Laura Oftedahl, Development Officer, College of Natural Resources. At Cal since 2005.
I first came out as a graduate student at Indiana University in the mid 1970s, near the beginning of the gay liberation movement. As a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance there, I made presentations to classes and community groups comprised of many individuals who had never (knowingly) encountered a gay person. Times change. This summer I was married to my partner of 14 years, following the California Supreme Court ruling that same sex couples have equal rights under the constitution. It has been an amazing journey, far more profound than I ever expected. Having the legal right to marry and celebrating our union with family and friends has meant more to me than I could have guessed. Our culture understands the meaning of marriage; it is growing in its understanding of equal rights for all.
Christy Dana, Senior Lecturer Emerita, Department of Music. At Cal since 1987.
As a safety engineer and technical manager in industry for more than 25 years, being a gay man at times seemed at odds or fractured from my professional work life. Accepting a staff position at UCB has been one of the best career moves I could have made. At Berkeley, I feel appreciated for the unique perspective, technical proficiencies, and collaborative approach that I bring to my work. Diversity of thought and celebration of differences, coupled with technical and academic excellence, make this a wonderful place for me in which to live, grow, work and learn.
Jim Gilson, Senior Safety Engineer, Office of Environment, Health & Safety. At Cal since 2007.
I try always to be out to my students in Social Welfare. I understand how that can be helpful to the queer students since I remember how isolated I felt at UMass in the 1970s when I thought I was the only gay person in the world. But I often think being out here at Cal is more helpful to the straight students. It's good to challenge their norms and expectations. I'm surprised at how many have gone through life without knowing a gay person. I think I can help straight students lose the stereotypes and start realizing that there's not a whole of difference between us - straights and gays - after all.
Sherman Boyson, Undergraduate Advisor, School of Social Welfare. At Cal since 1995.
Being openly 'out' is part of my daily life; it has to be. My partner and I (together for 16 years now) have two young daughters, ages 8 and 4. They don't know (yet) that many people think there is something wrong with a family made of a mama and a mommy. So if I feel a slight hesitation when I have to come out (yet again), I just think of them. Luckily, working at Cal is such a pleasant, positive experience that my sexual orientation is not nearly as interesting as whether I have any recent cute pictures of my girls in my wallet.
Karie Frasch, Director, Office of Faculty Equity & Welfare. At Cal since 2005.
Being married to a person of the opposite sex, I'm often not recognized as a 'B' in the LGBTQ rainbow. Yet I've worked for our collective visibility since the 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights. Coming to UC, I've been fortunate to help promote queer perspectives among Cal's initiatives for diversity and inclusion. My hope is that hundreds more of our thousand-strong campus contingent will make their contributions as staff and faculty much better known.
Sharon A. PAGE-MEDRICH, Senior Writer/Editor/Assistant to the Dean, Graduate Division. At Cal since 2001.
I feel that it is particularly important to be "out" in the College of Engineering since closets in this field tend to be large, dark, and deep. My undergraduate degree was in Mechanical Engineering so I know firsthand how difficult this male-dominated and heterocentric milieu can be for those of us who are queer. In my 1-1/2 years at Cal, I've been very impressed by Chancellor Birgeneau's leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusion. His work to ensure that every member of the Cal community is celebrated encourages me to do my best work as a fundraiser.
Randy Sweringen, Senior Director of Development, College of Engineering. At Cal since 2006.
I grew up in small-town Texas where coming out was not much of an option. I am an Air Force veteran, and served from 2004 to 2008, before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed. Nobody asked while I was active duty, but there were some I told. I had a small support group during my service, which helped a lot, but it was not ideal. I was out as a student at Cal from Fall 2014 to Spring 2016 and received my B.A in Anthropology. As a Veteran Specialist in the UCB Office of the Registrar now, I am proud to be an out veteran serving those in the Veteran and Cal community.
Jay T. Nelson, Veteran Benefits Specialist, Office of the Registrar. At Cal since 2016.
I am a new professor at Cal since January 2016. I am thrilled to be here and have been involved in oSTEM projects in the past. My goal is to be a resource for those who wonder what it is like to be out in science and in a tenure track or tenured faculty position. I also like to break stereotypes. Often this is as simple as just being one's self! I am an evolutionary biologist and passionate about evolution.
Prof. Noah K. Whiteman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Biology. At Cal since 2016.
Josh Smith personal photo
Having started with UCB in the Fall of 2013, I am still "learning the ropes" and adapting to the culture. I very much look forward to taking part in various activities and leveraging my two decades of experience in LGBT focused not-for-profit management to assist, if needed.
Josh Maximilian Smith, Office Manager, Center for Educational Partnerships. At Cal since 2013.
The wonderful thing about working at Cal is that you can be yourself fully and completely. My partner, Alex, joins me at many Haas School functions and is always welcomed with open arms by my colleagues.
Adam M. Berman, Executive Director, Emerging Initiatives, Haas School of Business. At Cal since 2005.
I met my wife while we were both staff at UCLA and now we're both happy to be here at Cal!
Mariana Corzo, Communications Manager, Student Information Systems. At Cal since 2012.
Emily Krechel
Growing up, there were no role models – in the media or in my life – to help me understand what it means to be a successful queer woman. I struggled, to say the least, with coming to terms with my identity. As a student affairs professional, I believe it is important for me to be authentic and genuine with students – to be the role model that I didn’t have growing up. I want to be someone students can look at and feel confident that their sexual orientation does not make them abnormal or become a detriment to their future happiness. Through the work I do every day, I hope to create inclusive and supportive environments where students feel comfortable exploring their own identities and being their authentic selves.
Emily Krechel, Associate Director, New Student Services. At Cal since 2012.