LGBTQIA Alumni Network holds awards ceremony as part of Homecoming celebrations

Three outstanding members of the Elon community were honored with the LGBTQIA Community Enrichment Awards during an event Nov. 10 in McKinnon Hall.

(l-r) Recipients of the 2013 LGBTQIA Community Enrichment Awards: Cecelia Thompson ’05, Mark Gustafson ’04 and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Lynn R. Huber.
Established in 2012, the awards honor Elon community members who have made a positive impact on the LGBTQIA community, as well as LGBTQIA alumni who are bettering their local communities. These awards also highlight individuals who serve as partners, advocates and investors in Elon University.

The program included remarks from President Leo M. Lambert, Lindsey Altvater ’09, president of the  LGBTQIA Alumni Network, Michael Bumbry ’07, the network’s awards and recognition chair, and Rachel Della Valle ’05, the network’s vice president. Honored were:

Mark Gustafson ’04

Mark Gustafson is the co-founder of Stonewall Kickball and Stonewall Sports, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT social sports league and nonprofit supporting the DC Center for LGBT Community. Stonewall Kickball now has more than 400 members per season and raises more than $20,000 per year for the DC Center. Stonewall Sports has expanded to include two additional sports, Stonewall Darts and Stonewall Bocce, and an affiliate kickball league in Raleigh, N.C. While in D.C., Mark also served on the board of directors for the DC Center and volunteered with multiple LGBT nonprofits. Now living in Los Angeles, Mark is active in the LGBT community serving as co-chair for Deloitte’s Pacific Southwest Chapter of GLOBE and organizing the company’s LA AIDS Walk Team that raised more than $13,000 for AIDS Project LA.

Cecelia Thompson ’05

Shortly after graduating from Elon University in 2005, Cecelia Thompson became the executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation, an organization that promotes diversity and inclusiveness throughout the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the greater Piedmont Triad. In that role, Cecelia provided strategic vision for the organization, created new models for outreach and fundraising and increased grant-making impact. Since 2008, Cecelia has served as director of projects for Action Greensboro, an economic development nonprofit working to better quality of life in Greensboro. Cecelia has received many awards for her work, including the 2010 Triad Business Journal 40 Leaders Under Forty, 2013 Elon University Top 10 Under 10 and 2013 Next City Vanguard awards. She has served on boards and committees with the Triad Health Project, Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, Greensboro Symphony, Weatherspoon Art Museum and Greensboro Children’s Museum.

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Lynn R. Huber

Lynn R. Huber holds a Master of Divinity and a doctorate from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Her research focuses primarily on the Book of Revelation, as well as exploring the construction of gender, sexuality and virginity in the early Christian context. Much of her current work specifically engages Revelation from a queer perspective. Lynn co-chairs a group dedicated to LGBT/Queer Biblical Interpretation for the Society of Biblical Literature, the oldest and largest professional society devoted to the critical investigation of the Bible from a variety of academic disciplines. She is a member and council member at Life’s Journey United Church of Christ, the only church officially designated as “open and affirming” of gays and lesbians in Alamance County, N.C. Within this community, Lynn regularly holds book studies on queer theology and has led a workshop on reading the Bible for LGBTQ liberation.

During her remarks, Huber said the awards were a sign of how much things have changed in her lifetime. Growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, she said, many young people lacked the language to describe their identity and the support to embrace it or fully understand it. She added she was glad to see students nowadays who have gay and lesbian role models and networks of support. She was also proud that unlike her alma mater in Idaho, which sees being gay, lesbian, queer and bi-sexual as being “outside of God’s perfection,” she was part of an institution that “works to support its LGBTQ alumni.”

Elon’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and ally (LGBTQIA) Alumni Network strives to improve the campus climate for members of the Elon community by advocating on behalf of LGBTQIA issues and partnering with others to build an inclusive and respectful community.