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5. Identify

39b_hands.jpgBE WHO YOU ARE…
For Matt Armstead ’08, being openly gay at college was not such a big deal. He was active in the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU) throughout his four years at the College. Now, in addition to his work as director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Center at Princeton, Armstead reaches back to Swarthmore to continue to support the current generation of queer and questioning students. And, increasingly, he is trying to build a larger network of LGBT alumni.

So is Seth Brenzel ’94, who attended Swarthmore at a time when openness about gender and sexual orientation was expanding the comfort zone for LGBT students. Brenzel, who was president of the Alumni Council in 2008–2009, has also remained in touch with LGBT students since his graduation in 1994. “That’s the easy part,” says Brenzel, “because there have been organizations like SQU all along as part of the Intercultural Center, which was created when I was a student. But it’s often harder to connect with those alums who were either unable to self-identify as queer in college or who did so later in life. They need to have a certain comfort level about the College before they will reach out to other queer alums.”

Armstead, who interned in the Alumni Relations Office after graduation, has helped organize the annual LGBT gathering at Alumni Weekend. “There are lots of ways to connect with people at reunions, and this is just one of them,” he says, “but it’s been great to meet people from across generations.” He enjoys hearing “the ways that being gay have played out in our lives” from alumni such as Charles Jackson ’60 and Bill Bradford ’66.

“The current student who has been out since middle school and the older alum who came out after a divorce—that’s really different,” Armstead says. “For some, being queer is a large part of their identity; for others, it’s largely tangential.”

Tatiana Cozzarelli ’08, now a teacher in Providence, R.I., says that since graduating, she has attended two of the Sager Sympo-siums—annual campus conferences on LGBT issues—and found “a lot of other alums there.” Some years, she says, there has been an alumni dinner gathering at the symposium.

Cozzarelli and Armstead would both like to see LGBT alumni connect more in the cities where they live, doing projects, marching at pride rallies, or merely socializing. He sees Facebook and other social networking tools as a way to make this happen: “I love the fact that I can have an open and exciting conversation with other queer alums. It’s just another of the many shared experiences we have from Swarthmore.”


• Were you a student athlete? Many coaches keep former athletes connected through regular newsletters, email “blasts,” invitations to return to campus as instructors for camps and clinics, and annual alumni-student matches or games in some sports. With the help of an alumna, Lacrosse Coach Karen Borbee is currently constructing a Facebook page for players. Coach Eric Wagner asks soccer alumni in far-flung places to go watch prospective recruits in action and maintains personal relationships with many alumni, even some he never coached.

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