In a recent front-page Gazette article, Wilford Kale reported that Jeff Trammell, a graduate of William & Mary and former rector of the College, was instrumental in creating a new archival collection at the Swem Library. .
The archive will contain thousands of documents about the federal government’s persecution and purge of gay and lesbian federal civilian employees and military service members. These records include copies of documents from a multitude of sources, including the National Archives, Library of Congress, Presidential Libraries, and the Department of Justice.
These documents were used to help Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia prepare and present U.S. Senate Resolution 275 and an apology.
Resolution 275, introduced by Kaine on June 17, 2021, recognizes and apologizes for the mistreatment and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who served the United States in the armed forces, the foreign service and the federal public service.
The resolution recognizes that for decades the federal government has discriminated against and terminated hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, causing untold harm to these individuals professionally, financially, socially and medically, among other harms. .
Trammell, who became the first openly gay chairman of the board of trustees of a major public university, managed to avoid being among those who suffered severe discrimination.
“I was very lucky and had few hurdles to overcome,” Trammell said in a recent interview. “While I was definitely not at William & Mary, I was in an environment where everyone was respected and there was a real sense of community. I can never repay W&M for the opportunity that it gave me to grow as an individual.
Trammell grew up in Blountstown, Florida, where he was a standout athlete, leading his basketball team to state championships and being named a High School All-American. This led to a basketball scholarship to William & Mary. There he captained the men’s basketball team.
After earning a law degree from Florida State University, Trammell served on the staff of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. His career in public service was followed by becoming a senior managing director at Hill & Knowlton. In 2001, he founded Trammell & Company, a Washington-based public affairs firm. Trammell has worked on the presidential campaigns of Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
I asked Trammell, what made him come out of the “closet” and become a prominent member of the LGBTQ community?
“From early childhood I knew I was different but I didn’t understand why,” he said. “Eventually, in my 20s, I realized that I had a different sexual orientation than everyone else I knew at that time. My coming-of-age story is probably common to the roughly 20 million Americans LGBTQ However, some people don’t gain this self-awareness until later and therefore come out later in life.
Trammell said he had been privileged to be involved in several leadership roles in the gay community over the years. But one experience stands out as the most meaningful and fun.
Sandra Day O’Connor, the former U.S. Supreme Court justice who later served as Chancellor of William & Mary, has proposed to marry Trammell and her longtime partner, Stuart Serkin, a prominent legislative attorney, at the Supreme Court in October of 2013.
“Proving his reputation for humor,” Trammell recalled, “O’Connor chastised me for being a few minutes late for my own wedding and then for the inadequacy of the tennis shoe I was wearing on my broken foot. Then she performed an emotional wedding ceremony, which was inconceivable to Stuart and I when we met 36 years earlier, in 1977.”
Shatz is a resident of Williamsburg. He is the author of “Reports from a Distant Place”, the compilation of his selected chronicles. The book is available at the parish shop in Bruton and Amazon.co.uk