After working for the University as an athletic trainer for the football team from 1968 to 1979, Lindsy McLean joined the San Francisco 49ers as a trainer. But for the 24 years that McLean worked with the team, he stalled coming out to his professional community to keep his personal life and career separate.

During a roundtable discussion on Friday as part of the Spectrum Center’s 40th anniversary events,. McLean talked about his experience coming out and the discrimination he faced from people in the industry. After being verbally harassed at work, McLean found solace at a church that welcomed the gay community.

“I’d leave Candlestick Park and go to church,” McLean said. “I think the fact that I had an outlet there, it really helped me.”

To overcome his difficulties and serve as a role model for other gay people, McLean looked to others for support including author Betty Berzon and her book “Setting Them Straight.”

“I thought, what do I have to lose?” he said. “Maybe I could help a few others in their struggles against hate and lack of acceptance by coming out.”

McLean was recognized by the sports community in an ESPN Magazine article in 2004 that illustrated his efforts to achieve increased tolerance for LGBT people in the realm of sports.

During another discussion on Friday celebrating the Spectrum Center’s mission to promote awareness of LGBT issues and tolerance on campus, philanthropist and technology entrepreneur David Bohnett discussed his foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation — a non-profit, grant-making organization that aims to improve society through social activism.

Bohnett, a University alum, said the foundation gives more than $40 million to various organizations and is centered on LGBT leadership programs, diversity initiatives and development of CyberCenters, which allow members of the LGBT community to network and communicate with each other.

Bohnett said the foundation focuses on the challenges of health and happiness, earning a living, military and public service, personal safety, legalizing gay marriage and other equal opportunities for members of the LGBT community. To make significant changes, Bohnett said there must be large-scale modifications in culture and public opinion, which can stem from legislation in federal policy such as the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

“We have been and we are becoming a broader, progressive movement,” Bohnett said. “In my experience … we take a great deal of effort to integrate with the labor movement, the broader progressive movement.”

Bohnett added that he is supportive of the Obama administration’s willingness to enact non-discrimination policies that will impact a variety of LGBT citizens.

“I was just at a meeting in Washington this week, and there’s a very deliberate, thoughtful and specific approach to include sexual orientation with the federal adherent requirement,” he said. “That means that any contract for doing work for the federal government will have to have a non-discrimination policy in place for sexual orientation.”

At a luncheon on Friday, Will Sherry, associate director of the Spectrum Center, gave a short speech lauding the importance of discussions about LGBT issues among generations of alumni.

“This really is the heart of the weekend — it’s about being able to collaborate with each other, learn from each other and develop relationships between students and alumni that can be lasting,” Sherry said during the event.

In an interview after his speech, Sherry said getting involved with the Spectrum Center as a graduate student allowed him to not only help others, but also grow personally.

“It really allowed me as a graduate student to grow and learn,” he said. “I had the opportunity to be a coming-out group facilitator when I was a graduate student and help other students in the process of coming out.”

Sherry said he also personally sought help from the Spectrum Center, and the experience reaffirmed his dedication to his work since he went through the transgender transition process while he was a staff member at the Spectrum Center.

“I know, as a person who sits in a place of a lot of support in the community, that it’s still a really hard process, so I can only imagine for people who need to find that support and don’t have it readily available, hence the importance of our office on campus,” Sherry said.

University Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones, who attended the luncheon, said in an interview after the event that she is impressed by the Spectrum Center’s work and is looking forward to its future endeavors.

“We’re leading the country in terms of being the first place that has a Spectrum Center,” Jones said. “We continued to sort of be innovative and lead our peers around the country in terms of program areas that have opened up, and I’m just really excited to see what the next 40 years are going to be like.”

In an interview during the luncheon on Friday, University alum Thomas McCulloch, a retired attorney living in Lansing, Mich., said he is surprised and impressed by the continual development of new programs at the University since he graduated in 1975.

“It’s very interesting because the Spectrum Center didn’t exist when I was an undergraduate, and this is just another example where I’m constantly aware and sort of marvel at how times have changed,” McCulloch said.

McCulloch added that there was no open community of LGBT people when he attended the University.

“The gay men, we knew who each other were, but the folks who were out were rare exceptions,” McCulloch said. “It was an interesting sort of undercurrent going on and we were there, and we knew who we were.”

LSA senior Alyssa Francini said having an organization like the Spectrum Center is crucial to building tolerance and community in a collegiate setting.

“I wasn’t here 40 years ago when things like this had to be created for people to come together,” Francini said. “Now, we’re lucky enough to be students at this University where if there’s a will there’s a way, and if there’s a want, it will be given to us.”

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