Brad Dressler ‘96: A Former Student Showing His Pride
A queer former student uses his experiences at Texas A&M University to make a difference in Aggieland and beyond.
By Tiarra Drisker ‘25
Brad Dressler ‘96 knew quite a bit about the “Spirit of Aggieland” from attending football games and visiting the Texas A&M University campus to see his older sister. Once enrolled as a journalism student, Dressler used the lessons he learned at Texas A&M to make a difference in Aggieland and beyond.
Dressler loved the traditions and camaraderie that have always been characteristic of the campus, but he faced unique challenges.
“Being a student in the 90s at Texas A&M was challenging because I was also dealing with coming out,” Dressler explained. “I loved the campus overall but I definitely knew it was a straight, cis-gender, heteronormative environment. That was not something I totally fit into. There were a lot of struggles as a student when I was on campus. In the early 90s there were not a lot of resources. The LGBTQ+ Pride Center didn’t exist yet. There was a student campus organization for gay and lesbian Aggies, but when you’re dealing with coming out, you don’t necessarily feel comfortable going to those kinds of organizations. There wasn’t really much of a support system or structure in place.”
Dressler began to realize the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion across campus but also outside of Aggieland.
“My passion started with my own personal experience as a queer male who struggled with being out in Texas and finding my own sense of community,” Dressler said. “That was the starting point that I think gave me the emotional intelligence and expanded my empathy to be able to put myself in other people’s shoes and better understand the struggles, obstacles, and barriers that any underrepresented group or marginalized community goes through on a daily basis.”
Dressler said his own experiences with obstacles and discrimination have helped him relate to others who have lived similar experiences.
“I want to be able to help others, let them know that they are not alone, and that there is support out there,” Dressler said. “If I am not able to provide support and resources that I do through my work or volunteering, then I would like to help them find those resources and help them find a place where they do feel supported, safe, nurtured, validated, and appreciated while being their authentic selves.”
As a student, Dressler put this passion into various student organizations across campus. He became a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the Student Government Association, chairperson of the Environmental Issues Committee, and a Fish Camp counselor.
“Through those roles, I learned so much about being a leader and providing selfless service to fellow Aggies and the broader community,” Dressler shared. “My experiences led to my desire to do more for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized, underrepresented groups.”
In the early 2000s, Dressler worked for the Association of Former Students. Even there, he recognized the need for recognition and support of marginalized groups.
“I remember seeing a post come in from a gay couple and they were announcing their commitment ceremony because marriage was not legal at the time,” Dressler shared. “I just remember thinking that LGBTQ+ Aggies are an invisible minority of sorts. People don’t realize that there are more queer Aggies that exist than they think. There wasn’t any support system for LGBTQ+ Aggies once they left Texas A&M.”
From there, Dressler began working to create what is now known as the Aggie Pride LGBTQ+ Network. The organization started in 2014 with meetups in multiple Texas cities and expanded to have an annual LGBTQ+ reunion and tailgate on campus that welcomed hundreds of Aggies and their families.
“I knew there was a need for an LGBTQ+ former student association at A&M,” Dressler said. “As the founder and now past president it was something that just seemed so necessary. I was so excited to help build that organization and grow it into becoming a constituent network of The Association and provide support for those who are often overlooked in the Aggie community.”
Dressler continued to work on the Texas A&M campus for over ten years and then decided to start his own marketing agency. Then, he went to San Francisco to pursue his passion for tech. There, he was nominated to be on the programming board for Startout, a non-profit that empowers LGBTQ+ business leaders and builds a world where every LGBTQ+ entrepreneur has equal access to lead, succeed, and shape the workforce of the future.
He also worked as a marketing program manager at Google where he helped Google support underrepresented groups in tech by providing networking opportunities, resources, and training to help advance their careers. As a community partnerships marketing manager at Facebook, he provided support, resources, and access to an accelerator program for grassroots community leaders. Dressler then accepted a role as marketing manager at Google on the Google Career Certificates team, providing a career pathway for underrepresented groups toward a tech-related job or career advancement.
In his leadership roles at large companies, Dressler has continued to maintain his Aggie core values.
“I’m always an Aggie no matter where I go but the desire to be open and treat other people with respect while making them feel welcome and included is one life lesson I learned from my time in Aggieland,” Dressler explained. “As a queer Aggie, I did not always feel like I fit into Texas A&M’s environment. When we begin realizing that as human beings, the more we treat each other with respect and dignity and think about other people’s perspectives more than our own, the more we are going to build something meaningful and helpful for everyone involved. That’s one of the most impactful things being an Aggie taught me.”