Thirty-seven years ago, I walked onto the campus of McGeorge School of Law as a first year law student. I was a single mom and I was going to do this in the regular day program. With lots of student loans and three part-time jobs and a wonderful group of friends who became the “baby-sitting tag team”, I graduated three years later. My daughter walked across the stage with me.
I managed to do something while I was there. Not just studying and not just making ends meet occasionally but something that actually mattered to other people. And, at the time, I didn’t think it was important to very many.
It all started with my friend Joel. I believe it was in our first class (I could be wrong about that). It was torts (I think). He sat on one side of me and Josh sat on the other. We formed a study group right then and there. We were all terrified on different levels.
For Joel the terror came not so much from the work and the studying but from having to restructure his life. He had been living in San Francisco and other cities before that where he was out living his life openly and happily. McGeorge was not a place that was safe for a gay man. Joel decided to change that.
He asked me to help. And I did.
We knew that McGeorge was a very ‘conservative’ law school. But we wanted a safe space. There were other ‘law societies’ on campus and it seemed that there was no such animal for gay people. We approached the Women’s Law Student group (the name of which escapes me right now) and our welcome was not what we had hoped. We begged and pushed to get our classmates to sign the petition that we had to present to the administration in order to have the school recognize a new group. Our flyers were defaced. Some threatened to call the county child services on me. Joel received many an unkind remark.
When Joel saw a closeted gay professor at a local gay watering hole, he introduced himself and told the man what we were doing. The professor’s response was ‘WHY?’. “Why bother.”
But we persisted and Lambda Law Society was born.
When we finally left McGeorge we did not know if the Society would last. We kind of assumed that it would not.
This last weekend we were invited to a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Jeffery Poile Scholarship for LGBTQ students of McGeorge. It was also the 37th anniversary of the establishment of the Lambda Law Society on that campus.
We were treated like royalty by students AND FACULTY of all genders and orientations. Their Fall Spectacular was a drag show with the Dean, Assistant Deans, and even the Provost participating. It was a real hoot.
The Society had survived. We had survived. The law school survived. And we all thrived.
So the answer to the professor’s question is:
THAT IS WHY.