Published May 13, 2020 by Rebecca Goldfine

Celebrating Out Seniors Online

For its eighth annual Celebration of Out Seniors, the Sexuality, Women and Gender Center (SWAG) invited seniors, student allies, alumni, staff, and faculty to join a festive, funny, and moving online gathering.
Out dinner guests.
Out dinner guests Dee Spagnuolo ’96, Matt Roberts ’93, and professor Theo Greene.

SWAG typically holds its end-of-the-year event celebrating out seniors in Cram Alumni Barn, serving dinner and beloved Bowdoin logs for dessert. But in light of the pandemic, SWAG organized a “BYOD” (bring your own dinner) virtual event this May.

With people Zooming in from across the country, ten seniors were applauded for their accomplishments. Kate Stern, SWAG director and associate dean of students for inclusion and diversity, said that if the event had been held on campus, more would have joined. 

“We raised a glass to all of the classmates who couldn't be with us,” Stern said, “either because they have yet to be able to come out, or they are out but not able to be out where they are living now.”

Twenty-five people joined the celebration, including comedy writer Matt Roberts ’93, Assistant Professor of Sociology Theo Greene, SWAG associate director Rachel Reinke, and Assistant Dean of Admissions Bryce Ervin ’15.

Bowdoin trustee Diana “Dee” Spagnuolo ’96 kicked off the event by giving “a heartfelt and inspirational welcome to the group,” Stern said. 

Reinke then led a “powerful round of introductions,” Stern continued, inviting people to speak about their “queer highlight of the year or four years at Bowdoin.” Many described the important friendships they had made and the supportive community they had found here.

Staff and faculty read quotes compiled in a letter Stern would give out to seniors, Out in the World: From Out Alums to the Class of 2020. Contributions came from old and young alumni spanning the graduating classes of 1948 to 2018. 

As each senior's name was called out for a round of applause, they danced in their Zoom square. 

The event closed with a parody song based on the gay iconic hit I Will Survive, with new lyrics written by Stern, Reinke, and Roberts, a former executive producer and Emmy Award-winning head writer of the Late Show with David Letterman.

(Stern said that Roberts “would say it was written together with Rachel and me, but... he wrote most of it!”)

"And you will thrive!! Parody for Senior Dinner 2020, Covid Style"

At the start of senior year, blissful ignorance!
Never thought there’d be a virus task force led by Pence
We didn’t fill our thoughts with doctors—Fauci, Birx, or anyone
Well there was one:
McDreamy in the Smith Union

And then Spring Break, it all broke down
We couldn’t all come back to Brunswick, had to stay in our hometown,
Goodbye meeting up at quarties, hello classes from your room,
And how can we enjoy pub pizza when we’re Quinnering on Zoom? 

Yes you will go, and graduate
You’ll all rise beyond this challenge
And you’ll end up somewhere great

Things won’t be normal for a while
But with all your strength I’ve seen
I know you’ll love a summer without classes on your screen 

You have arrived!
And you will thrive
You’ll have forgotten this pandemic by the time you’re twenty-five
You’ve got big, long lives to live
We’ve got all our love to give
And you will thrive

(All) We know you’ll thrive!