Every October, the Barnard and Columbia community takes time to reflect on the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community in the advancement of gay rights. Queer Awareness Month (QuAM) is a time to recognize the history of queer advocacy, to honor all those who worked and continue to work toward inclusion, and to celebrate everyone on National Coming Out Day (October 11).
Below are eight of the many alumnae who have contributed to this spirit of advocacy.
Anne-christine d’Adesky ’79, ’82JRN is an author, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and gender and human rights activist focused on gender and global public health issues. She has received various awards for her work, including amfAR’s inaugural Honoring With Pride award and a San Francisco AIDS Hero award.
Jamie Babbit ’93 has produced and directed many award-winning television episodes, including The L Word, Girls, Silicon Valley, and Russian Doll. She also directed 1999’s queer comedy But I’m a Cheerleader and was honored with the DReam Catcher award in 2019, awarded each year to recognize an LGBTQ+ filmmaker. In July, she received Emmy Award nominations for executive producing and directing Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building.
Nora Beck ’83 is a music professor, LGBTQ+ activist, and Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. Beck also served as the faculty athletics representative to the NCAA for Lewis & Clark College for a decade, participating on numerous panels to support LGBTQ+ and other minority student athletes.
Chai Feldblum ’79 is a longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and disability rights. In 2010, she became the first openly lesbian commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Karla Jay ’68, who participated in the 1968 student protests on Columbia’s campus when she was also a member of the feminist group Redstockings, is a distinguished LGBTQ+ scholar. Jay joined the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and became the first woman chair of the organization. She helped to produce New York City’s first-ever Pride march and participated in the Pride Parade of Los Angeles.
Dylan Kapit ’16 educates with passion about disability justice and queer and trans liberation. They are currently working on their Ph.D. in special education with a focus on creating queer and trans-inclusive sex education materials for autistic individuals. Kapit is Barnard’s inaugural LGBTQ+ outreach coordinator.
J Madden ’22 started Boys, Butches, and Bros at Barnard, a collective where students acknowledge their differences and work together to build solidarity. J Madden was featured in an interview for the Barnard Movement Lab’s Gender* in the Archives installation.
Amy Sueyoshi ’93, historian and dean of San Francisco State University's College of Ethnic Studies, specializes in Asian American and queer studies. In 2018, she published Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental,” and in 2017, she was honored as the community grand marshal at the 47th annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration.
—COMPILED BY RACHEL LANDESMAN ’25 & TARA TERRANOVA ’25