Alumni Weekend Events Look at History of LGBT Community on Campus

For 40 years, the Pride Network, a student organization at the University of Rochester, has provided a safe and welcoming environment for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) students on campus. During the University's annual alumni gathering, Meliora Weekend (Thursday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 17), a series of events will celebrate the group's important milestones. Open to all alumni, the events will look at the history of the Pride Network and explore the future of diversity issues on campus.

The group, which was originally named the Gay Liberation Front, held its first meeting in 1970. Early activities included publishing the Empty Closet newspaper, hosting lectures about issues of concern to the LGBT community, and organizing social events for students and community members.

"I think for the founding members, we created the group so that future kids wouldn't feel like they were growing up in isolation," says RJ Alcalá, who was an undergraduate at the Eastman School of Music when the Gay Liberation Front was formed. "It was about making it easier for people on a personal level; the group gave us permission to explore and express ourselves, and not face the future with fear. We felt and became empowered to combat stereotypes and misinformation about being gay."

Open to both students and community members, the large group eventually branched out to create the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley, while the student organization continued on campus.

Through its history, the University of Rochester's chapter and name have evolved, and in 2002 it was renamed the Pride Network. Today, the group continues to provide support through education, activism, and the sponsorship of events and social activities for LGBT students and their straight allies.

"The group was instrumental in starting the gay liberation movement in Rochester by providing a place for students and community members to go if they had questions," says Cristin Monahan '11, a current member of the Pride Network. "We hope to continue to provide all students at Rochester a safe space to discuss the many issues they may face."

Alumni can register for any of the events by visiting the Meliora Weekend Web site at The planned events include:

The Neurobiology of Sexual Orientation – The Gay Brain Lecture
Thursday, Oct. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Dr. Jerome Goldstein '63 is a recognized medical neurologist with a specialization in neurobiology and an advocate for gay rights. Goldstein will speak on the neurobiological basis for sexual orientation, drawing upon research that has given credibility to a widely held conclusion that most sexual orientation is in place at or shortly after birth. A reception will immediately follow the lecture. This event is also presented by the Warner School of Education's LGBTQ Student Interest Group.

The Neurobiology of Sexual Orientation – The Gay Brain Lecture II
Friday, Oct. 15 at noon in Room 3-7619 at the University of Rochester Medical Center
Dr. Jerome Goldstein '63 will discuss the neurobiological basis for sexual orientation during a program designed for those with a background in medicine and science. This event is presented by SPECTRUM and the Student Interest Group in Neurology.

Feature Film: "You Should Meet My Son!"
Friday, Oct. 15 at 9:15 p.m. in Hubbell Auditorium in Hutchison Hall
The 18th annual ImageOut Festival, Rochester's Lesbian and Gay film and video festival will screen "You Should Meet My Son!" on the River Campus, highlighting the strong ties the Pride Network has with the Rochester community. Tickets for the film will be available at the door.

Pride Network 40th Anniversary After Hours
Friday, Oct. 15 from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Bridge Lounge of Wilson Commons
Join Pride alumni and their friends and allies for relaxing conversations and reminiscing while enjoying a cash bar and complimentary appetizers.

Pride Network 40th Anniversary Luncheon and Panel
Saturday, Oct. 16 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Ballroom at The Meliora
Join a panel of Pride alumni who will discuss the group's past, present, and future.

College Diversity Roundtable: Conversations about Diversity at the College
Saturday, Oct. 16 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Room 318 & 418 of Gleason Hall
A panel of undergraduate student scholars and campus leaders will discuss campus diversity and inclusion as it relates to their campus experiences, activities, leadership, research, and community service. A reception will immediately follow the presentation.

Meliora Weekend guests are encouraged to share their experiences by posting updates on Facebook, checking into "Meliora Weekend" and other locations around campus on foursquare, and sharing conversations and photos on Twitter and Flickr using the common hashtag #meliora.