Hello everyone! Sorry for the long silence on this site. We’ve all been really busy! I feel like I am constantly running: I started teaching this semester, am working on my second benchmark, and am taking classes. I have a bunch of different posts that I’ve been planning on writing, but haven’t managed to finish yet. However, even with other posts waiting in queue I wanted to make sure that I posted about this past weekend, which was Bucknell Homecoming! Hard to believe it has been a year since I wrote this entry about Bucknell Homecoming 2010. (It was interesting rereading it tonight, I had totally forgotten that I wrote my first grad school paper that weekend.)
This was my second Homecoming as a Bucknell alum, and the first Homecoming since my mentor and close friend, Fran, passed away suddenly last January. She was the director of the LGBT Office and was family to many of us there. It was not always easy to be gay at Bucknell, and Fran was a huge support and advocate for all her “kids.” I am surprised that I did not mention her in the post about Homecoming last year as one of my strongest memories about that weekend was her speech at the GALABI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender alumni, allies and friends) luncheon, talking about her students, past and present, and how much has changed on campus over the years. It was wonderful to be there with other GALABI members, listening to Fran, knowing how much she loved all of us, and that I was a part of a wider community.
It has been a rough 9 months since Fran passed away. A few times I have thought about writing about it here, but haven’t been able to. Since Fran passed away last January, visits to Bucknell have been bittersweet. I usually try to get to Lewisburg every 3-4 months or so, and am always excited to see my friends and “Bucknell family.” But I miss Fran. I imagine that it is a loss that will always be with me, and I know that I am not alone in missing her.
Lee Cromwell ’05, spoke at Fran’s memorial as a representative of GALABI, and said that for many alumni returning to “Lewisburg, the burg, the bubble or however else you want to say it, [many] conversations tend to be about the past.” They are about recounting cherished memories, which is always enjoyable. However, as he points out, “For those of us like me that got to work as a member of GALABI with Fran, most of our conversations were about the future. Fran kept us informed about what was going on now on campus and what we could do to continue to improve Bucknell.” (Click here to see Lee’s speech in full, as well as the other poignant tributes to Fran’s life.)
And this is what I love most about GALABI, this connection to the future as well as to the past. And while Fran was frequently on my mind this weekend, as I wished very much that she was there, I also felt engaged with what is happening on campus now and the work that is continuing to be done to make it a safer place for students.
I first became involved with GALABI as a student, and really enjoyed meeting the older alum and hearing about their stories about what campus used to be like. I’ve met interesting people and I’ve become good friends with many of the alum who are here in the DC area. In fact, it’s been quite helpful to have these connections, as I have gained a dog-sitting job, and also got temporary housing when my roommate situation disintegrated last year. (Remember the 93′ Physical Therapy alumna in the 2010 entry? I lived with her this summer, which was great! And we carpooled up to Lewisburg for Homecoming this weekend.)
This weekend was full of memories of the past, as well as hope for the future. After the GALABI luncheon on Saturday we had our “Strategy and Planning Meeting” and elected new co-chairs, including yours truly. This was not something that I had been expecting, but when asked, it felt right to step up and take a more active role in the organization. My wonderful co-chair, Mary Wyeth ( 1998/2004) and I are excited to be working together and with the rest of GALABI to help alumni and students connect. Some of GALABI’s goals for the next year are organizing regional events in specific cities like DC, NY, and Philly, as well as partnering with other alumni groups. We’d also like to see more alumni attending Homecoming, and are trying to figure out how to encourage people to attend, recognizing that some people are dealing with distance/cost/time constraints that prevent them from visiting.
One of the best parts of Saturday was meeting with current students at the new gender-neutral house for LGBTQA students on campus. Known as “Fran’s House” this is located at Galloway House and is a part of the small houses program. There are 12 students living in the house, and it looks like they are having a great time together. It’s a nice space. We got to hang out with many of the students living in the house as well as other members of FLAG & BT and a few recent alumnae who hadn’t come to the luncheon or meeting. Everyone in the room introduced themselves, talking about where we are from, current jobs/occupations and involvement in GALABI, or in the case of students, their year, major and activities on campus. It was really nice to get to chat all together. (Edited to add: Also, FLAG & BT now has about 30 regular members, and they also have break-out groups, a gay men’s group, a lesbian group, and a bi/trans/queer/everyone else group. How cool is that!!??)
Throughout the weekend I also got a chance to get to know Bill McCoy, the new director of the LGBT Office, and to hear a little bit about what he has been doing (mostly settling in–as he’s only been there a few weeks!) and some of the things that they have been working on–like editing the Safe Space Program a little bit. It was great to see him interacting with the students when we all met at Fran’s House and I am looking forward to seeing how the Office continues to grow in years to come. Fran, you would be proud.
Overall, it was a good weekend. Along with all the gay stuff that I got to do, I also caught up with some of my old professors at the Tailgate before the football game, including Prof. Trop (Geology) who I had a wonderful conversation with about grad school. As I always do when in Lewisburg I stayed with John and Ghislaine, which was lovely. Thank-fully there was no paper-writing this time, but I did play several hours of Playmobile with Claire (8) which was fun. Unfortunately there were no fantastic stories about brothers getting kidnapped and sent to Africa, just damsels in distress being rescued by a reluctant knight in shining armor riding a dog that was pretending to be a Great Dane pretending to be a horse.
Till next time, Lewisburg! You rock.
 These include a kick-ass interview I did with Shara McCallum last August. (The process of transcribing it is slowing me down a bit!) Also planned, part 2 and 3 of my series on words and language, and a review of the Arts Festival at Bucknell in August.
 I do hope at some point to write a series on the process of writing and reading through grief, as I have found both to be really helpful in this process of mourning.