Flanked by an arch of rainbow-colored balloons, David Waymer ’14 had an exciting announcement for the nearly 70 members of the class of 2019 standing before him.
As president of the Northwestern University Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association (NUGALA), he was speaking at Lavender Graduation — a ceremony held June 18 to celebrate the achievements of graduating students in the University’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and ally community.
NUGALA will now be known as the Northwestern University Pride Alumni Club (NUPAC), a name that encompasses all of the identities along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, Waymer said to cheers and applause. “It is my hope, and the hope of our board, that the club will continue to provide that sense of community, belonging, connectedness, stewardship and purple pride alongside a deeper and more instinctual pride in the full breadth and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.
The club has focused on inclusion since it was established in 2002 to welcome and connect alumni “whose sexualities or identity were considered ‘other’ with camaraderie and community at and beyond Northwestern,” Waymer said.
Over the years, NUGALA has offered a range of programming and outings, from Homecoming events, tailgate parties and social mixers to theater performances and lectures at Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. Since 2013, the club has awarded scholarships to eight Northwestern students through an endowed scholarship fund.
The name change came as the board looked for new ways to foster inclusivity among all communities along the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
“To ensure that our branding and approach resonated with students, we met with the LGBTQ Advisory Board and appreciated their insights,” says Amanda Civitello ’08, the club’s vice president for communications. “We wanted to eliminate barriers working against our commitment to diversity, equity of access and inclusion.”
The NUPAC board is working to attract new members and increase engagement among current membership by expanding programming in major U.S. cities and developing service opportunities with organizations that help LGBTQ+ youth. The club also hopes to bring new and diverse voices to the board.
For Allyna Mota Melville ’19, one of Northwestern’s newest graduates, the change is a step in the right direction.
“As a bisexual woman, I don’t identify with gay and lesbian, so I’m always hesitant to step into those spaces,” she says. “The new name opens the doors for more people to share their stories and be a part of the organization. It also allows space for conversations about the identities we need to support at Northwestern, and in the postgrad world and the world in general.”