Alumnae should support Mills as an institution for women’s education, despite concerns within the alumnae community about bisexual and lesbian committees within the association and on campus. We want the alumnae to continue to support Mills women and not feel like they’re judging us when they come to campus.
In the Summer of 1995, the Mills Quarterly spotlighted the issues around lesbian visibility on campus. The feeling at the time was that lesbian visibility was an issue that had long been ignored as an item important enough to be addressed in any formal capacity- a feeling many of us have today.
One of the main topics discussed throughout the issue was whether or not there was a need for Mills to single out women as having a particular sexual orientation. Another topic was that many alumnae wanted to continue the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Others voices in the issue thought that it was time for Mills to outwardly acknowledge the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities on campus. This included statements from past alumnae director Rebecca Gebhart, President Janet Holmgren, voices of lesbian and straight students and an article by an alumna.
The Alumnae Association received a variety of negative responses in the form of letters and phone calls. One read, “Please remove my name from your mailing list. Your last issue, Summer 1995, does not fit into my belief system. I was embarrassed to receive it. I am conservative and believe in traditional family values.”
Mills is about community; it’s about the unifying force of similarity, female similarity. And yet, as we are all aware, being female does not constitute an automatic kinship or likeness. Individuality must also be a part of that community, a part that then makes it stronger and wiser. Being an individual can be anything from how you choose to dress, to what classes you decide to take, to who you date.
It’s disappointing to us that some Alumnae in the past have refused to support their Mill sisters because of their sexual preferences. Even today, there is still signs of disapproval from alumnae. We think it’s important that alumnae should continue to support Mills and put aside their differences and promote the women in becoming leaders in the world.