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The University of Texas made history last night.
For the first time since its creation 127 years ago, the University’s alumni association welcomed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender alumni and friends with a network they can call their own: the Texas Exes LGBT Network.
The network has been in the works for about a year, and has held informal events like happy hours, but last night’s LGBT Alumni Reunion was the “big debut,” said Ryan Miller, BJ ’07, network co-chair.
“We’d like to make this a yearly homecoming-type event,” Miller said. “Our primary goal is to come together to build community and advocate for UT.” The network is also putting together a scholarship fund.
About 100 alumni and soon-to-be grads celebrated in the Alumni Center’s Legends Room after UT’s Lavender Graduation. The casual party atmosphere—complete with caps and gowns, wine, and lavender-frosted cupcakes—was marked by boisterous cheering.
The packed crowd cheered when network co-chair Ryan Miller, BJ ’07, opened the evening by saying, “I think we might need a bigger room next year!”
They cheered even louder when Texas Exes CEO Leslie Cedar said, “The Texas Exes is not your grandpa’s alumni association. It’s yours.”
Justin Cole, BA ’11, said he didn’t know much about the Texas Exes until a friend invited him to join the LGBT Network. “I think it’s great,” Cole said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Co-chair Miller emphasized that all alumni are welcome at the LGBT Network. “You don’t have to identify as LGBT to join us,” he said. “We really want to involve everyone.”
The room fell silent in contemplation when Gregory Vincent, UT’s Vice President of Diversity and Community Engagement, called the reception a historic milestone for the University. “UT has a proud tradition of LGBT student activism,” Vincent said, “and we should take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. Then we should get back to work, because there’s more to do.”
Photos by John Fitch