For Martin Kokol ’78, the conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender alumni April 11–13 is “a celebration of a journey for myself, my tribe, and my university.” The event will welcome hundreds of alumni back to campus to reconnect during three days of panel discussions, film screenings, and parties. Kokol, who plans to travel from Wyoming, said the gathering offers an opportunity “to be a part of a community that never existed when I was in college. It was so underground then.”
Alumni scheduled to speak at the conference, which is free, include Marisa Demeo ’88, an associate judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; David Huebner ’82, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa; Daniel Mendelsohn *94, a critic and author; Jared Polis ’96, a Colorado congressman; Anthony Romero ’87, the executive director of the ACLU; and Jordan Roth ’97, the president of Jujamcyn Theaters. Panel discussions will cover topics such as marriage equality; the intersections of sexuality, gender identity, and spirituality; LGBT issues in corporate America; and LGBT athletes at Princeton. An oral-history project will collect memories of life at Princeton and beyond.
Those planning to attend are encouraged to register by March 28 (http://alumni.princeton.edu/goinback/conferences/lgbt/), but may sign up on the first day.
At focus groups held in the fall, many LGBT alumni spoke about painful and isolating experiences they had at Princeton.
David K. Johnson *73 will arrive with the shredded pieces of a banner that reads “Gay Alliance of Princeton.” It was torn from the windows of a friend’s dorm room while Johnson was a student; now, he plans to donate it to Princeton. Johnson is especially interested in attending the memorial service at the conference, as many of his friends were early victims of AIDS.
The conference will allow alumni to “come together and discuss honestly the history of LGBT life at Princeton, to celebrate the advances that have been made,” said Robert Gleason ’87, who helped to plan it, “and to look to the future for areas where Princeton and Princetonians are a real force for change.”