Out after College exhibit case
Image by Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library
William and Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae (GALA) was founded by Stephen Snell ‘66 in 1986. Initially based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, it quickly gathered members from throughout Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts, and within its first five years, had attracted enough members to have mini-chapters in Richmond, Tidewater, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. Over the ensuing 20 years, GALA has helped many LGBTQ alumni reconnect with William and Mary, has been a fund raiser for campus concerns, and has brought together alumni from several decades in a community of mutual interests.
Other GALA battles met with mixed success. GALA signed on as one of the plaintiffs in an organized state-wide effort to have archaic ABC regulations overturned. One of the regulations at issue made it illegal in Virginia for homosexuals to serve alcoholic beverages. While the law was sporadically enforced, it was used as a tool for police harassment of gay bars. The courts sided with the plaintiffs and the offensive regulations were eventually overturned. Less successful was the effort by GALA to remove ROTC from campus because of the discriminatory practices of the military, in particular the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This battle was fought both locally and nationally by GALA and student organizations, but the power of the federal government to withhold funding ultimately defeated arguments opposed to ROTC on many university campuses.