After 30 Years, University of Notre Dame Finally Recognizes LGBTQ Alumni Community

The University of Notre Dame has recognized recently its first official LGBTQ alumni organization after alumni’s years of working and struggling for recognition.

The Alumni Rainbow Community of Notre Dame (ARC ND), the new LGBTQ alumni association, replaces the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s (GALA-ND/SMC). GALA-ND/SMC has operated in an unrecognized capacity for almost 30 years, often being unable to meet on campus or even claim university affiliation.

Despite its lack of official recognition, “GALA-ND/SMC has played a valuable role in building community and helping LGBTQ alumni and friends connect with one another,” said Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. The organization sponsored scholarships for LGBTQ students, held events to honor LGBTQ alumni, and hosted tailgates and gatherings for LGBTQ students and alumni. The organization also sponsored OutreachND, PrismND, and Spectrum, different branches of LGBTQ student community-building organizations at the South Bend, Indiana, school.

The GALA-ND/SMC website reports:

“GALA was started in the early 90’s with a mission of engaging LGBTQ alums and to support the LGBTQ campus community. Now, a university sponsored LGBTQ+ affinity group has been announced. Its stated mission is to actively engage the LGBTQ+ alumni community, so GALA will be winding down our organization during the transition period and encourage all our members to join the newly formed university sponsored group. For legal & financial/tax purposes, the winddown will most likely continue into 2022.”

The university’s recognition of ARC ND will provide many benefits to Notre Dame LGBTQ alumni and student communities. The website explains:

“As a university sponsored group, more opportunities will exist to partner with on-campus groups/resources (including PrismND & Spectrum). There will be significantly more visibility to find and engage LGBTQ alums across the US, local alumni clubs will be encouraged to provide programming for LGBTQ alums in their area, and NDAA resources will now be available to support our alumni community.”

The announcement of ARC ND comes after approximately 18 months of conversation and deliberation with the Notre Dame Alumni Association.

The news was received with joy by many who participated in the conversations, including Paul Burke, the current GALA-ND/SMC chair, who said:

“I want to thank the Notre Dame Alumni Association for making this historic decision. I also want to thank every GALA-ND/SMC leader and member who built this organization and helped it thrive. Whether you increased awareness of LGBTQ+ issues on campus or locally, raised money to support students in need, or joined the community in solidarity of the mission, you have paved the way that resulted in today’s exciting announcement. While this community has positively impacted many, we have a new organization to build, ARC ND. The GALA-ND/SMC officers and board are excited to support ARC ND and to join the NDAA family. Together, we know that we will build an inclusive community that makes everyone proud.”

The chaplain to the Notre Dame LGBTQ community, Fr. Joe Corpora, CSC, told Bondings 2.0:

“As the Campus Ministry Chaplain to the LGBTQ community at Notre Dame, I was delighted to learn of this news. Notre Dame’s formal recognition of ARC ND is yet another sign of Notre Dame’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Many alumni told me that this news made them feel recognized and cherished by their beloved Notre Dame.”

The official recognition of ARC ND at the University of Notre Dame is an historic, landmark moment for LGBTQ inclusion at Catholic universities. The increased access to greater opportunities, resources, and programming will improve the lives of many LGBTQ students and alumni of Notre Dame.

This post is part of Bondings 2.0’s “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read other stories by clicking here.

Madeline Foley, New Ways Ministry, July 29, 2021

3 replies
  1. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    As a 1970 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, I am pleased that this limited recognition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender alumni has taken place, but I must point out that only initials or euphemisms are used to refer to the love that still dare not speak itself. Inclusion almost is still not real acceptance on an equal basis.

  2. John M. Lee, C.P.
    John M. Lee, C.P. says:

    Timely witness to the right of all persons to be recognized as they are by nature and not as some would want them to be.
    John M. Lee, C.P.

  3. Hank & Nancy Mascotte
    Hank & Nancy Mascotte says:

    Kathy Sullivan, Associate Director of the N/D Alumni Assoc. in her position as Director of Alumni Continuing Education asked Nancy Mascotte to lead a panel called “the Family and Homosexuality” at the annual Alumni reunion at Notre Dame. Phil Schatz faithfully attended this program. Hank Mascotte

    From: Philip Schatz
    Date: July 15, 2021 at 1:18:42 PM EDT
    To: Hank Mascotte

    This is a thanks to Nancy, whom I saw in the Market this morning. I
    should have remembered to say that it is largely because of her
    efforts, all those years, that ND Alums are now recognizing the GLBT
    contingent. Nancy gave that seminar at the alumni reunion, year in and
    year out. Consequently the needs of LGBT alums gradually became clear.
    Nancy rather painlessly made that need obvious. There were such
    touching revelations from alums.
    Thanks for that, Nancy.
    Perhaps it took a woman as director of the Alumni Association for this
    recognition to finally happen.

    Love to both,

    And the former Assoc. Director, a woman, to start the whole ball rolling. Hank


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