DGALA, formerly the Dartmouth Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association, was founded in 1984. Prior to that time, a group calling itself Dartmouth Lambda had formed based on responses to a letter Ed Hermance ’62 had written to the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine seeking other GLBTQA alums. The initial mailing list, generated from responses to Hermance’s letter and the personal contacts of interested alums, contained less than 100 names. DGALA vies with Cornell and Brown as one of the first GLBTQA alumni groups.
DGALA began publishing a newsletter soon after it formed. Chuck Edwards ’86 A&S served as the initial editor for the Dartmouth GALA News. Jim Gibb ’67 took over the publication in the early 1990s for a few issues before it gained a new editorial staff and became Green Light (named after the small green beacon lit at the top of Baker Library during every major alumni gathering). The new editors Lee Merkle-Raymond ’86, Christopher Stahl ’92 and Eric Stults ’80 redesigned the newsletter and added feature articles. The newsletter is being archived at Baker Library. It is currently edited by Peter Williams ’76.
In 1994, a group of New York City-based alumni decided to reorganize the association to give it more direction and allow it to address issues more swiftly and thoroughly. Spearheaded by Gibb and Williams, the group incorporated in the State of New York on December 30, 1996. In January 1998, DGALA was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. The association has over 700 members on its mailing list from over 40 states and 11 countries with more added each month as interested alums learn of the group through word-of-mouth, the newsletter and the webpage. Funding for the group comes solely from membership contributions and donations. DGALA is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of twelve alums from various classes and geographic regions. The Board (which includes a slate of four executive officers) meets by teleconference on a regular basis to discuss concerns of the membership and issues that affect GLBTQA life at Dartmouth. In the past, such issues have included the presence of ROTC on campus, the perspectives on GLBTQA issues of potential candidates for the College’s Board of Trustees and input on the Student Life Initiative. DGALA members have also hosted undergraduates and held numerous informal receptions and parties during pride marches over the years.
DGALA first sought official recognition from the College in the late 1980s. Although initially reluctant, the Alumni Affairs office finally recognized DGALA as an affiliated group of College alumni in the early 1990s. About the same time (February 1992), DGALA members David Hamilton ’85 and Brad Agry ’76 placed an ad in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine to publicize the existence of the organization and solicit new members. Another ad designed by Stahl appeared in the magazine in 1995 to announce the first of what has now become an annual meeting and reception in Hanover each June during Reunions.
The College now solicits the input and advice of DGALA Board members and officers on a regular basis. Currently, DGALA holds two seats on the Dartmouth Alumni Council and Board members attend annual leadership retreats sponsored by Alumni Affairs to discuss issues specific to Dartmouth alums and students, GLBTQA and otherwise.
Compiled by David Eichman ’82 and Chuck Edwards ’86 A&S