Standing in the doorway of the University of Redlands Pride Center, Doug Hairgrove ’62 and Warren “Woody” Wood ’62 hold hands affectionately. They’ve been a couple for more than 50 years, and Wood says with a smile, “It’s great for us to be able to do this on campus today.”
As students, Hairgrove and Wood were part of the same social circle but had different interests. A business major, Hairgrove was in the first Salzburg group and was active in the Bulldog newspaper and La Letra yearbook. Wood studied church music, sang in the University Choir, and was a student-athlete in swimming and water polo. After becoming off-campus roommates, they fell in love.
In their life together, the couple has dedicated their careers to education and advocacy. Both worked in Redlands Unified School District for more than 30 years. Wood later accepted a library automation job in New Mexico, where the couple was active in gay rights groups such as PFLAG, Human Rights Alliance, and Faith Communities Against Hate Crimes. They currently reside in Palm Springs, where Hairgrove helped found Safe Schools Desert Cities, an organization that empowers and serves LGBTIQIA+ youth and their allies. For their collective contributions, the two were recently honored with a lifetime achievement award from Greater Palm Springs Pride.
Following “a 47-year-engagement,” Hairgrove and Wood were one of the first couples to marry in 2008 following the legalization of same-sex marriage in California. As such, the couple recognizes the importance of serving as role models for today’s LGBTQIA+ students.
“Back [when we were students], we had to hide the fact we were gay,” recalls Hairgrove. In contrast, when Hairgrove and Wood returned to Redlands as the keynote speakers at a unity festival in 2007, “We were speaking to 500 people about what it was like to be gay at Redlands in [University Hall,] the same room where we met.”
They have since come back to campus to attend several Lavender Recognition ceremonies, which celebrate Redlands’ LGBTQIA+ graduates during Commencement week. Last fall, they also connected with other Bulldogs when they hosted approximately 40 students at a pride parade in Palm Springs.
“We didn’t have anybody to relate to, so we want to make sure current students have someone with whom they can talk,” says Hairgrove. “Not every LGBT student will be part of the Pride Center, but the fact that it’s there tells them it’s OK to be who they are.”
If you have a story like Hairgrove and Wood that you would like to share, or if the Pride Center made a difference for you at Redlands, tell us at email@example.com.