DGALA Event Brings Queer Women’s History to Light

Amanda Rosenblum ’07 with Pete Williams ’76, June 2022
(excerpted in the June 2022 DGALA newsletter)

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of coeducation, DGALA and Women of Dartmouth hosted a virtual event in May titled “LGBTQIA+ Women in the Early Years” exploring Dartmouth stories and perspectives of queer and trans women pre- and post-coeducation. The event was hosted by all alumni affiliated groups and OPAL (The Office of Pluralism and Leadership at the College).

Panelists at the May 10 event
Clockwise, from top left: Caroline ’05, Dottie ’86, Dana ’69, Becca ’24, Amelia ’82, Mary ’80

Alumnae Dana Bevan ’69, Mary Klages ’80, Amelia Cramer ’82, and Dottie Foley ’86 spoke about their journey to and through Dartmouth, where they found queer community, their struggles and triumphs, and their personal and professional lives since graduation. Collectively, these alumni represented three decades of Dartmouth’s history. Amelia and Dottie are both past DGALA board members, and Dottie recently returned to the DGALA board. Alumnae spoke about how it would have been transformative to have an LGBTQ group with institutional backing at the College and how grateful they are for what is now available to students on campus.

Men and Women Students Make a Statement at Memorial Stadium Game – Fall 1991
Men and women students make a statement at Memorial Stadium game, fall 1991

Caroline Kerr ’05, former DGALA president and current Dartmouth trustee, moderated the panel, hosted by Amanda Rosenblum ’07, DGALA Co-Vice President. In Caroline’s opening remarks, she said, “For me, it’s particularly an honor to be moderating the discussion tonight as we commemorate three 50th anniversaries – of coeducation, of Black Alumni at Dartmouth, and the Native American Program. These events deepen our understanding of what these milestones are and how these moments were experienced and are continuing to be experienced. We have changemakers with us today.”

Current students Becca Wade ’22 and Jess Chiriboga ’24 joined the conversation to share about their own experiences as queer students on campus today.

Women students at the March for Equality in Washington, DC, April 2000
Women students at the March for Equality in Washington, DC, April 2000

DGALA history and queer alumnae impact on the College’s history was a theme throughout the event. Brendan Connell ’87, past DGALA president, opened the event by speaking about the DGALA project SpeakOut, a partnership with Rauner Library and Dartmouth College. This is a project to document the history of the LGBTQIA+ community at the College. As a result of the project, we now have 49 oral histories documented online, and our stories are part of the College’s recorded history at the library.

Jess Chiriboga '24
Jess Chiriboga ’24

Writing after the event, Jess Chiriboga said, “I first discovered SpeakOut during my college application process and have listened to the interviews ever since. SpeakOut has a real value not just from a historical perspective, but showing the Dartmouth community that representation matters and that Dartmouth is committed to preserving these stories. I was brought close to tears several times during the panel, and I couldn’t help but feel sad and angry, but also so grateful and happy that so much has changed for the better on this campus. It was a true honor to be in conversation with all the panelists.”

Pyrofeminism t-shirt logo
Pyrofeminism t-shirt logo

Mary Klages emailed, “Thank you for hosting this. It has been more healing than I could have imagined. It was so affirming to me to see so many of my “gang” in the audience—and to have people wanting to revitalize the Pyrofeminism T-shirt and slogan! I feel like all the pain of my time at Dartmouth was worth it, for what has come since.”

The Zoom event begins with an amazing slide show (with a great soundtrack!) of dozens of photographs, such as those above, showing queer women (and men) at Dartmouth over many years. Watch the event recording below.

Recording of the “LGBTQIA+ Women in the Early Years” event