Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.03.29
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. The Emory Wheel - Wise Receives Inaugural LGBT Leadership Award
2. Battle Creek Enquirer - Performance artist Tim Miller brings gay rights issues to stage
3. The Houstonian - HAVEN workshops aid Bearkats: The A,B,C s of sexuality for awareness of G.L.B.T. community to promote acceptance
4. The Seattle Times - Assault of 2 Shoreline CC students on Oregon beach considered hate crime
5. Post-Tribune - Gay student stripped of VU student senate seat
6. The Gainesville Sun - Students play a key role in city election
7. Pride Source, Between The Lines News - Lansing Community College to hold transgender clip show
8. Chicago Tribune - Same-sex marriage: At Loyola University, advocates of same-sex marriage find a voice
9. The Daily Star - Author: Children need diversity in books
10. The Ithacan - Opening a dialogue: College hosts Sport, Sexuality and Culture Conference to discuss sexual identity issues in athletics
11. The Murray State News - Presenter opens ‘toxic closet’
1. The Emory Wheel, March 20, 2009
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
Wise Receives Inaugural LGBT Leadership Award
By Christopher Yu
The Emory Gay and Lesbian Alumni (GALA) chose College junior Olivia Wise as its first recipient of the GALA Leadership Award on March 2 and awarded her a $2,500 scholarship.
For the award, GALA coordinators searched for first-, second- and third-year students who had contributed to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community at Emory or in their hometowns. GALA aimed to recognize a student with “a vision of creating a better environment for LGBT for Emory in the future,” according to Michael Shutt, the director of the Office of LGBT Life.
Wise said that she was honored to be the first recipient of the award and that the coordinators “recognized not only [her] past work as a leader but also [her] future vision” for the LGBT community.
There were many different qualities that distinguished Wise from the other candidates, including her leadership skills, academic background and enthusiasm for the future well-being of LGBT life at Emory. Wise serves as co-president of Emory Pride and secretary of Feminists in Action, and is also active at the Center for Women.
She also recently helped produce the Vagina Monologues, which raised more than $3,500 for Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation, an organization working to prevent domestic violence.
The inaugural award was funded by a family of recent graduates of Emory who agreed to contribute the award in full this year, to be dispersed over a period of five years, if GALA granted a scholarship of $2,500 dollars this year.
In order to give two awards annually, GALA aims to increase the endowment for this award through fund-raisers, Shutt said.
GALA’s goals, according to the organization’s website, strive to reach out to the LGBT community at Emory by developing and implementing social, educational and networking activities. GALA also supports increased involvement in the community through support of the LGBT Office.
Her vision for the future is to focus more on transgender issues as she wishes to “reach out not only to the trans community but also to educate the Emory community on what it means to be transgender and [make] the Pride curriculum more trans-friendly.”
2. Battle Creek Enquirer, March 23, 2009
155 West Van Buren Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017
Performance artist Tim Miller brings gay rights issues to stage
Reader Submitted, Albion College
A "funny, sexy and charged exploration" of gay marriage and immigration rights is uniquely presented at Albion College by visiting performance artist Tim Miller. Miller performs his artistic memoir, "Glory Box," on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the College's Herrick Theatre, located in the Dow Recreation Complex.
"Tim Miller is a very important leading artist forging the relationship of the theatre to politics," says Albion College visiting theatre professor Kelly Bremner. "During his residency here, Tim will also offer workshops for students which will empower and inspire us all to see our own personal stories and struggles for what they are, fodder for potential political performances."
"Glory Box" (an Australian term for "hope chest") is Miller's exploration of
of love, gay marriage, and the struggle for immigration rights for gay Americans and their partners from other countries. From Miller's hilarious grade school playground battles to the travails of a bi-national relationship with his Australian partner, Miller leads his audience on an intense and humorous journey into the complexity of the human heart and contemporary American society.
Miller has performed throughout North America, Australia, and Europe in such venues as Yale Repertory Theatre, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Miller has taught performance at the University of California-Los Angeles, New York University and the School of Theology at Claremont. In 1990, Miller and three other artists successfully sued the federal government for violation of their First Amendment rights, sparking a national debate on decency laws.
This performance is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Albion College Theatre and Dance department, firstname.lastname@example.org or theatre professor Kelly Bremner at 517/629-0344.
3. The Houstonian, March 24, 2009
Dan Rather Communications Bldg. 210, Sam Houston State University
P.O. Box 2178, Huntsville, TX 77341
HAVEN workshops aid Bearkats: The A,B,C s of sexuality for awareness of G.L.B.T. community to promote acceptance
By Ruth Johnson
Many derogatory names have been used to negatively address the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) community for many years, but Sam Houston State University is taking steps toward arming the campus with tools to unite the students and staff against these prejudices, regardless of sexual identity.
Program Council Coordinator Chuck Collins and Dr. Drew Miller of the Counseling Center, recently co-founded the program HAVEN on campus, to educate faculty and staff on the world and culture of the GLBT community.
It began in the fall of 2008 when they began seeking committee approval on beginning the process of creating the program. After meeting with a similar group from Texas A&M, Aggie Allies, they have since put together workshops on campus discussing topics ranging from GLBT vocabulary, to culture, to hardships.
So far HAVEN has held two workshops. The first was in February, and the second was this past Thursday, March 19.
They are continuing to hold the workshops every 3rd Thursday monthly.
Though the previous workshops have been in the evenings, the May meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Miller said that "the workshops are essentially for the education and training of our faculty and staff to understand and identify with GLBT students on campus."
HAVEN covers many issues in their workshops, and some of them include: vocabulary, "coming out" (the process through which a GLBT person recognizes and then discloses his/her sexual orientation to others) and what that entails, the oppression that a GLBT person faces, what a heterosexual person faces as an ally to a GLBT or to the group as a whole, GLBT history and resources.
"I think the most important thing that someone can take out of our workshops is the understanding of privileges and heterosexism," Miller said.
Heterosexism is a term that applies to attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual, or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the norm and therefore superior. People of any sexual orientation can hold such attitudes.
Heterosexism feeds directly into the privileges, or lack thereof, in the GLBT community. Some of the privilege issues include the right to marry, and even things as simple to heterosexuals as holding hands with a partner in public, or discussing partners in mixed company.
The idea of HAVEN, and addressing heterosexism, is that GLBTs are here on campus, and that there is an importance to looking for it, recognizing it, and not ignoring it. It also stresses the importance of getting familiar with GLBT life and the experiences of this "invisible minority status."
"This is the time in which the GLBT community is experiencing the most momentum -- at least the most productive momentum," said Miller.
In the 1970s and 1980's, GLBTs came out at on average in their mid-twenties. Now the age has dropped dramatically to the average age of 15. Programs like HAVEN aim to prepare universities for their growing GLBT communities.
Safe zones have also become more active on campus. These are places in which GLBT students can go talk to faculty and staff members about issues concerning their sexuality, get help with harassment, and learn more about who they are.
Consistent research shows that GLBT's have no more anxiety or depression than a heterosexual person, but they do experience these feelings under the same conditions a "straight" person would, like when they are not supported, accepted, or valued. Haven, and other similar programs, try to break down the sexuality barriers and create a united front in education.
For more information on the HAVEN program visit the website The site has a schedule for the workshops.
While the site is working on providing a sign-up for the workshops, it is not yet developed. To sign up for the next workshop, or contact HAVEN email email@example.com.
4. The Seattle Times, March 25, 2009
PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111
Assault of 2 Shoreline CC students on Oregon beach considered hate crime
By Charles E. Brown
Two Shoreline Community College nursing students were brutally attacked over the weekend in the small Oregon ocean-resort town of Seaside in what police there are terming a hate crime.
The men, 22 and 23, told police they were assaulted by three to four people in black, who beat them unconscious early Sunday as they walked along the beach after a night out in town during their spring break.
"We decided to wind up our evening by walking on the beach," said one of the young men, who asked that their names not be released. At the invitation of a group of people, the two stopped at a campfire gathering but soon started to feel uncomfortable and left. They believe they may have been followed.
One of the victims said someone in the group of assailants asked if they were gay, "then called us 'queer' and 'faggot' as they attacked us," he said.
The attackers left the two men lying on the beach, unconscious. After they came to, the two stumbled into a nearby hotel seeking help.
They were treated for facial bruises at an area hospital, one of the victims said.
One man lives in Bothell, the other in Issaquah.
The Seaside Police Department has posted a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack.
Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross said the hate-crime designation could bring a penalty in addition to that of the assault charges, The Associated Press reported.
Seaside police said detectives have been trying to track the victims' movements before the assault. They are requesting help from the public in identifying people who were at the bonfire party.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206 or firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Post-Tribune, March 25, 2009
1433 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville, IN 46410
Gay student stripped of VU student senate seat
By Jane Huh
VALPARAISO -- Tia Kolasa was voted by her college peers in February to serve on the student senate at Valparaiso University.
Kolasa, an openly gay student, sought the vacant minority-designated seat so she could represent the gay community on campus.
But a few weeks into her new role in late February, Kolasa, was removed from the senate.
The student senate leaders learned that its bylaws did not include sexual orientation as a qualifying minority status. The position should be set aside only for racial and ethnic minorities, according to school officials.
That has been the "historic pattern," said Reggie Syrcle, executive director of university relations.
In fall of 2007, the student body eliminated the racial and ethnic minority requirement, leaving the term minority undefined. The missing definition raised questions, which led then university President Alan Harre to suggest that the senate maintain the previous specifications.
"So that was the guiding principle last year and again this year until the question came up again," Syrcle said.
On Monday, the senate amended its bylaws, eliminating the minority and other group specific seats altogether.
Except for one seat for an international student, the rest of the 24 senate seats will have no minority-specific label.
"We voted on a change and now our job is to take it to (University President Mark Heckler) for review and approval," said student body President Liane Joshua, a senior studying political science.
So Kolasa now has the opportunity to run as an at-large candidate. However, she said she hasn't decided on whether to run. The debate over her situation with the senate has been overwhelming.
"I have to remember that I'm also a student and it's getting overwhelming and time-consuming," she said. "And it's something that I'm not sure I have the energy to continue with for the rest of the year."
Plus, she sought the original seat as a representative for the gay community, which she says is under-represented on campus.
"We need equal representation and equal opportunity for everybody," Kolasa said. "There is a reason for affirmative action and things along that sort."
Joshua said the situation stemmed from "misunderstanding and miscommunication."
Heckler said the matter of unseating Kolasa was "entirely procedural."
The ground rules were established from the beginning, he said. And changing those rules in midstream to seat someone was why Kolasa was removed, he said.
Kolasa, a sophomore studying social science, does not want to "burn bridges" with the school.
The university has grown more open and inclusive with Alliance, said Kolasa, who's vice president of the group that is a student organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,
And attendance at Alliance meetings has increased from four to five students last year to nearly 30 students this year, she said.
Still, she's "disheartened by the whole, (recent), situation."
"I wouldn't put the blame on anybody," she said. "I put the blame on society in general not being open as we should be. ... I'm going to continue to fight for LGBT rights."
Contact Jane Huh at 477-6019 or email@example.com
6. The Gainesville Sun, March 26, 2009
P.O. Box 147147, Gainesville, FL 32614-7147
Students play a key role in city election
By Megan Rolland
In the central University of Florida voting precinct, almost seven times more voters turned out for Tuesday's city election than in the last stand-alone election - a majority of whom opposed the controversial amendment to Gainesville's anti-discrimination ordinance.
Both those who voted for and against Amendment 1 are pointing to the unusually high number of UF student votes as a key factor in the battle over an amendment that would have eliminated discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
The group that put the amendment on the ballot did so out of concern that a vague definition of "gender identity" in the city's law would allow men to enter women's restrooms, creating a public safety hazard. The amendment was defeated by a difference of 3,342 votes, with about 58 percent of those who voted rejecting the amendment.
Of those 58 percent, 1,616 votes against the amendment came from the four precincts located on the UF campus, according to results from the Supervisor of Elections Office. In those four precincts, 467 voted for the the amendment.
"It does speak to the high level of importance that young voters place on equality," city commissioner Craig Lowe said.
Lowe, who organized the opposition movement to the amendment, said that in the last stand-alone city election, in March 2006, there were 100 votes cast at the Reitz Union.
"We considered that to be a high level," Lowe said.
This year close to 700 voters in the Reitz Union precinct cast ballots.
While Lowe and other members of Equality is Gainesville's Business say they are grateful and excited about the high student turnout, others see it as a recent trend to mobilize a short-term population base to help deliver a more liberal agenda.
"This was kind of something that we expected," said Stafford Jones, head of the Alachua County Republican Party. "One of the things that people who were against Amendment 1 were able to do, was very quickly and easily draw on the student population, just as they did with the Wild Places Public Spaces sales tax."
In November, a half-cent sales tax that will fund land conservation and recreation projects in Alachua County was approved in large part due to the high student turnout for the presidential election.
"The point is that probably a lot of students went and voted (against Amendment 1) that aren't going to be around in four years to have to deal with it," Jones said, referring to his public safety concern. "There is a sentiment in the community that, like the sales tax, local citizens are going to pay for this."
Aside from the high student turnout, the general turnout far exceeded numbers from 2006, when only 16 percent of eligible voters or 11,000 people cast ballots.
Tuesday results show a 27 percent turnout or about 20,000 eligible voters.
"With 27 percent of the people voting, that represented probably one of the best turnouts for a city election we've had in a while," said Jon Reiskind, chair of the local Democratic Party.
Reiskind said the only election that could beat Tuesday's turnout was the 2004 runoff election between Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and C.B. Daniel, which drew 29 percent of the voters.
On Tuesday, precincts in the core of the city tended to vote against Amendment 1, while east Gainesville and northwest Gainesville drew numbers favoring the amendment.
"There's a lot of similarity in how Charter Amendment 1 turned out and how the state Amendment 2 turned out," Lowe said of a Florida Amendment banning gay marriage that passed in November. "That does really bring out the fact that it really was about the degree of inclusiveness with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity as opposed to a safety concern."
Mark Minck, chair of Citizens for Good Public Policy, which led the push for the amendment, said he thought the results indicated that the more residential areas were concerned with public safety.
"Our opponents successfully framed this as this incredulous discrimination issue that they were able to get these young future leaders of the world excited about," Minck said. "It's more typical for a college age group to rally around that than it is public safety, because very few of them have children and families yet."
Regardless of what led to the outcome, there are still unanswered questions as to where Gainesville will go from here on the issue of gender identity.
Brent Christensen, president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, said he will be sitting down with Lowe to discuss changes proposed to the "gender identity" ordinance that will alleviate some of the business community's concerns.
"Our primary concern was someone walking into a business and demanding that they be accommodated by large scale changes in bathroom facilities," Christensen said. "It is absolutely the intent of the chamber to work with Commissioner Lowe to see the changes that were proposed move forward."
Lowe has promised to revisit parts of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance that deal with providing alternative accommodations - a promise that won his side an endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce.
As for the safety concern of men entering women's restrooms, Christensen said the state law regulating that alleviates his concerns.
"Hopefully, if there's a lesson learned in this process, it's that various constituencies need to have open dialogue when issues like this come about, so we don't have to have these long protracted battles," Christensen said.
7. Pride Source, Between The Lines News, March 26, 2009
Pride Source Media Group, 11920 Farmington Road, Livonia, MI 48150
Lansing Community College to hold transgender clip show
The Gay Straight Alliance at Lansing Community College will be showing clips of television shows and movies that have transgender characters. A discussion will later be had on the issue.
The event, held 4-6 p.m. April 6, is part of the first ever International Transgender Day of Visibility, which will be celebrated March 31. The event at LCC will be held at Student Personal Services at 425 N. Washington Square in Lansing.
Gender expression and gender identity have been played out in the media, and this event aims to show how Hollywood perceives transgender people in TV shows and movies.
Afterward, attendees can get to know the reality of being transgender through a panel discussion.
For more information, please contact Gina Beaudry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jennifer Spenny at email@example.com
8. The Chicago Tribune, March 27, 2009
435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Same-sex marriage: At Loyola University, advocates of same-sex marriage find a voice
By Mary Schmich
When John Litchfield, who's 26, enrolled at Loyola University's Chicago School of Law three years ago, he went to the student activities fair looking for the gay and lesbian support group. There wasn't one.
The lack of an official gay group at a Catholic school might not surprise you since the Roman Catholic church deems homosexual behavior a sin. But Litchfield was surprised. He had come to Loyola convinced that he'd be as accepted there as he was by his Catholic grandmother in Flossmoor, the south suburb where he grew up.
"I thought, OK, I know I'm not the only one here," he said when we met on Thursday.
"Where are they?"
He found them. That year, he and a few other gay students formed a group, called OUTlaw. One of the deans signed on as an adviser.
And on Thursday, the flat-screen TVs all over the law school were advertising the group's latest venture: a big symposium on same-sex marriage.
If Loyola were a public school, I might have deleted Litchfield's e-mail about the symposium. Life is heavy with press releases. But the fact that one of Chicago's Catholic institutions was opening its grand "ceremonial courtroom" to same-sex marriage advocates seemed worth some consideration.
"I think this reflects young Catholics in Chicago," said Litchfield, a slender guy with short auburn hair, neatly dressed in slacks, a white shirt and a navy pullover sweater. When I arrived, he'd been reading a news article—new rules for hedge funds—on his iPod.
"People in this age group, 22 to 30," he went on, "are mature, able to think things through."
He doesn't mean that all young Catholics think gays should be allowed to marry. But except for a single instance in his first year—someone ripped the group's posters off a wall in a locker room—he's felt entirely supported at this school where crucifixes hang in the classrooms.
Litchfield wasn't raised Catholic, but—"I know it sounds really schmaltzy"—Loyola feels like family. He points out that it's not just Catholic, it's run by Jesuit priests.
"The Jesuits value diversity," he said. "They value education and discourse. If you're pro-choice or you're gay, you're someone who can add to the discussion."
And so on Friday there will be a discussion.
Greg Harris, the Chicago state representative who is shepherding a civil-unions bill through the Illinois legislature, will be on the panel. So will lawyers pressing for same-sex marriage in Iowa and California.
The panelists will be there to advocate. Litchfield anticipates students who will come to argue. It's all part of the education.
Litchfield himself isn't ready to be married.
"But when I am," he said, "I want my devotion to this person to be recognized the same way my parents' devotion to each other is recognized. I want my kids to be able to say, 'Yeah, my parents are married.' "
After a while, we walked over to the ceremonial courtroom where the symposium will be held. The ceilings soared, and Chicago rose across the walls of windows.
Out in the changing, growing city, old buildings crowded next to new ones, and next to buildings so freshly under construction that you couldn't know exactly what they'd look like, only that one day soon they'd be there, and that once they were there, we'd take them for granted.
Just like, I'm betting, same-sex marriage.
For information on the symposium, go to chicagotribune.com/conference
9. The Daily Star, March 25, 2009
PO Box 250, 102 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
Author: Children need diversity in books
By Denise Richardson
ONEONTA _ Families are created differently, and sharing that fact early can help children understand others and themselves, the author of ``Heather Has Two Mommies'' said Tuesday.
Leslea Newman read her book in Lee Hall at the State University College at Oneonta, then led a discussion with the group of 25 listeners that included male and female elementary education majors and faculty.
Newman, of Northampton, Mass., was visiting the college for a presentation late Tuesday night titled ``You Can't Be a Lesbian _ You're Jewish'' at the college's Center for Multicultural Experiences.
At the earlier program, she and the students discussed that children may live with a variety of family configurations, including with a single parent and partner, with two parents living in separate homes, and in heterosexual or same-sex marriages.
``There's a whole constellation out there,'' Newman said. ``If you can be as inclusive as possible, that's just better for everybody.''
But silence initially answered Newman when she asked students what they would do if a school administration said they couldn't read a book such as ``Heather Has Two Mommies'' or how they would respond to children who say they have two mommies. A few undergraduates replied they would read the book, an answer Newman quietly favored.
Some parents may object to books about gay and lesbian parents being read to young children, Newman said. Parents may fear that exposure to homosexual characters will influence their children, said Newman, a self-described voracious reader who found no book that ``turned her straight.''
As a Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn in the late 1950s, Newman said she saw little in the media that represented her origins. The lack of diversity enhanced her sensitivity to isolation that children might experience, she said, and she worries about the ``gay kid'' who won't find any message that says ``you are absolutely OK just as you are.''
Newman, who acknowledged she isn't a teacher, said that in a classroom full of children, an observer cannot tell who is being raised by grandparents or foster parents, or who will grow up to straight, gay, lesbian or transgender. A key message to give children, she added, is that each family is special and that people in families love each other.
``It wasn't long ago that interracial marriage was illegal,'' Newman told the students, and the time will come when children will be surprised to hear that gay marriage wasn't legal.
Caitlyn Caron, 21, a senior elementary education major from Woodstock, said she learned from Newman's presentation the importance of differences, and that there are many ways to present messages to children.
``There are all different types of families,'' Caron said after the program. ``It's something that needs to be taught.''
Newman said there are many books for children that present gay and lesbian characters, though a gap exists in publications for students in third through seventh grades. In response to questions, Newman recommended the book ``And Tango Makes Three'' and a film, ``It's Elementary.''
Newman, who doesn't have children, said she was inspired to write ``Heather Has Two Mommies'' after a woman told her there weren't children's books illustrating life with lesbian parents. When Newman couldn't find a publisher, she and a friend raised money to meet the costs.
Newman is a faculty member in the creative writing program at the University of Southern Maine. She is an award-winning author who has written more than 50 books. Her short story "A Letter To Harvey Milk" has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.
She appeared at SUNY Oneonta as part of Pride Week sponsored by Open Minded Unity and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the College. Her visit was sponsored by the College Union Activities Council, Hillel, Open Minded Unity, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Office of Student Development, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Center for Multicultural Experiences, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
10. The Ithacan, March 26, 2009
Park 269, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY 14850
Opening a dialogue: College hosts Sport, Sexuality and Culture Conference to discuss sexual identity issues in athletics
By Jackie Palochko
As a female athlete, junior Regina Douglas has seen her share of gender discrimination. The varsity softball player said in high school, a few of her teammates were mistaken for lesbians whenever they hung out with other girls.
“One time, some of my friends … saw a teammate out with a girl, and they said, ‘She must be a lesbian; she plays softball. Isn’t that what most softball players are?’” she said.
At the Sport, Sexuality and Culture Conference, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Ithaca College, sponsored by the sport management and media department, Douglas attended sessions and lectures dealing with the misidentification of athletes’ sexuality.
The event included speakers from around the world leading sessions that dealt with sexuality and culture in sports. The keynote speaker was John Amaechi, the first NBA player to come out publicly about his sexuality in 2007.
Douglas attended the Sport, Media, Sexuality and Culture panel session where USA Today columnist Christine Brennan and Amaechi spoke about how the media covers gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes.
Brennan gave a firsthand look at how the media covers LGBT athletes while Amaechi talked about his experience as a gay man playing in the NBA. Davis said both speakers talked about the gender stereotypes of female athletes being lesbians and male athletes being straight.
“As a female athlete, I was glad these issues were addressed,” Douglas said.
Ellen Staurowsky, professor and chair of the graduate program in sport management and media, organized the event. She said the conference’s goal was to bring experts to the college who could engage the campus in dialogue about the changes in sports and LGBT issues.
“The world is changing with regard to homophobia and LGBT issues,” she said. “In terms of issues relating to homophobia, heterosexism and the sport industry … it is my hope that our students will be reflecting on what kind of climate they will create for their co-workers and colleagues.”
Amaechi had been open about his sexuality in England, his home country, for more than a decade, but he said he decided to come out in the United States to make an impact on the nation in which he played professional basketball. Amaechi said though most of his teammates knew of his sexual orientation, there was still the policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in the locker room.
When he did publicly announce his sexual orientation, he said he received all sorts of responses.
“The reactions were 95 percent positive, 5 percent negative, but the negative was loud, aggressive, violent and frightening,” he said.
In his speech last Thursday night in Emerson Suites, Amaechi also spoke about the stereotypes surrounding athletes. He told a packed crowd that people are often shocked when he tells them he is gay.
“I’m a tall, black, male athlete,” said Amaechi, the 6-foot-10-inch former center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz. “How could I possibly be gay?”
While attending college at Penn State University, Amaechi said he walked around as the “big man on campus” and was thrilled when people knew who he was. But now, Amaechi said he would have given up his career and fame to be out in college.
“I used to walk by the student center and see the LGBT group meeting, and I resented them so much,” he said. “I would have given it all up to have been with them.”
Other sessions throughout the three days dealt with issues such as transgender athletes, the Gay Games and legal issues concerning discrimination in sport. According to Staurowsky, about 1,000 people participated in the three-day event.
Laura Moore of the Federation of the Gay Games, gave a presentation Friday morning called “Federation of Gay Games: A History of the Gay Games Movement and Current Issues.” Moore was one of the first advocates of figure skating in the Gay Games, a quadrennial multi-sport event for LGBT participants, and said the Gay Games are so much more than athletics.
“We are not just a sporting event,” she said. “We are a cultural event.”
Freshman Chelsea Dutton, a member of the track and field team, volunteered to preside over the session “Female Athletes I: Negotiating Body and Identity in a Heterosexist World” by J. Alison Watts of Temple University and Karima Dorney of Queen’s University.
“It was phenomenal and really addressed how confusing it can be to be a female athlete in today’s society,” she said.
Dutton said she believed the conference was important because of how damaging discrimination in the athletics community can be. She said in order to combat homophobia in sports, these issues need to be discussed.
“The conference was a good way to educate people about stereotypes and sexuality and address issues, which don’t get talked about nearly enough,” she said.
Junior Jonathan Covney also volunteered to preside over sessions and was a host the first two days. He said the event was able to bring Ithaca’s athletic community together.
“It opened people’s eyes to show that everyone can get along in sports,” he said. “Sports is a great way to unite everybody, and this created awareness for equality in sports.”
Staurowsky said the event was successful in creating conversation among the campus about LGBT issues in sports.
“Sport as a social institution and as an industry is no different than the larger society,” she said. “[The conference] was a chance to bring together people from all around the world to share their work with each other and to move the conversation forward.”
11. The Murray State News, March 27, 2009
Presenter opens ‘toxic closet’
By Brittany Andrews
Bernadette Barton, associate professor of sociology and women's studies at Morehead State University, will give a multimedia research-based presentation titled "The Toxic Closet: Being Gay in the Bible Belt." The presentation is at 7 p.m. April 8 in the Price Doyle Fine Arts Center Room 623.
The free presentation will cover such topics as conservative religious ideology, slander, homophobia, the Bible Belt and how these affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The research presented is the subject of Barton’s upcoming book, “Pray the Gay Away: Religion and Homosexuality in the Bible Belt.” Barton has interviewed members of the LGBT community, predominantly in Texas and Kentucky, about their experiences living in the Bible Belt. The presentation will exhibit material from these interviews.
Barton’s book “Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers,” published in 2006, is now for sale in the University Store. Students may also purchase it at the presentation, where she will autograph copies.
Jody Cofer, Murray State Institutional LGBT Liaison, said Barton gave this presentation at Texas AM last year and was well received. Barton approached Cofer about giving the presentation at Murray State, prompting Cofer’s collaboration with Murray State Alliance, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the office of the Provost to bring Barton to Murray State.
Cofer said he thinks the presentation’s interesting subject matter, particularly its pertinence to Kentucky, will spark intrigue and important dialogue.
“The presentation is interesting because it is multimedia and research-based,” Cofer said. “It has real life examples from Kentuckians and Texans about living in a very conservative community.”
Barton will also speak to a sociology class during her time at Murray State. She will visit assistant professor of sociology James LaValle’s Individuals and Society class to discuss issues related to the LGBT community.
Alliance, the Murray State student organization that supports members and friends of the LGBT community, is one of the collaborators bringing Barton to Murray State.
Ronni McIntosh, sophomore from Owensboro, Ky., serves as treasurer for Alliance. McIntosh said she plans to attend and hopes the event has a successful turnout of Murray State students and community.
“It’s particularly important for our area,” McIntosh said. “There are a lot of ultra-conservative members of the community whose rhetoric may be harmful to their LGBT congregation.”
Brittany Andrews can be reached at brittany.andrews@ murraystate.edu.
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