Chanting and clapping fills the air as students, staff, and faculty alike cheer on their peers and special guest stars, fabulously dressed and impeccably on point, and the laughter and smiles of everyone in attendance is infectious – this is the McGeorge School of Law 2022 Fall Spectacular, hosted by the Lambda Law Students Association. McGeorge’s Fall Spectacular, which celebrated its 11th anniversary in 2022, is a drag show showcasing faculty, student, and staff performers and their singing, lip-synching, and dancing talents to raise money for the law school’s Jeffrey K. Poilé LGBTQ+ Endowed Memorial Scholarship.

This year, there was special electricity in the air for multiple reasons. Lambda is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and the law school is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Poilé Scholarship and reaching the 1-million-dollar milestone for the scholarship.

The Poilé scholarship, established in 2002, is a civil rights scholarship that helps law students with a passion for the civil rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community minimize their student loan debt. The scholarship is named after the life partner of Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Larry Levine. Poilé passed away in 1992. The law school has raised more than $1,100,000 for this endowment since its creation 20 years ago, including $99,495 raised this fall that will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Powell Fund.

146 students have received the scholarship since its inception, and it is now the third-largest scholarship fund at the law school.

The landscape of McGeorge has changed quite a bit since Lambda’s founding in 1982. Lambda co-founder Gael Mueller, ‘85, said her experience in law school was that the campus was not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Even so, she found kinship and connection with a supportive group of friends on campus.

“It was just really wonderful. We had such a small, supportive group of men and women,” Mueller stated. “There were very few women at McGeorge then, very few.” Today, the majority of McGeorge’s students are women and have been for the past three years, with 54% of the fall 2022 entering class identifying as women.

Getting Lambda registered as a student organization wasn’t an easy task back in the mid-1980s, Mueller said. Students were hesitant to get involved in the organization, “not only because of who we were, or what we were doing, but because our politics were obviously very different from most of the people on campus,” Mueller said.

Co-founder Joel Loquvam, ’86, echoed these sentiments, saying that after his experience participating in the Gay Student Alliance at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. as an undergraduate student, going to Sacramento felt like “stepping into a way-back machine.” During his first year on campus, Loquvam got involved with the Women’s Caucus but felt the pull to create a similar organization to the Gay Student Alliance on the McGeorge campus.