Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.02.21
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 Daily Campus (University of Connecticut) - Gay or straight? Not so clear-cut today
2. The Michigan Daily (University of Michigan) - In campus classrooms, a question of he and she or ze
3. Inside Higher Ed - Bold Choices
4. Kansas State Collegian - Protection in workplace should extend to all
5. The Nevada Sagebrush - QSU hosts underage events at Neutron
6. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University) - Photographer hopes to shed positive light on LGBT community
7. Duke University - “Fearless” photos of LGBT athletes will come to Duke University
8. OutSports.com - College lacrosse player comes out to his team
9. The Keene Sentinel - ‘I would if I could’: Group protests blood donation exemption
10. University of Colorado at Boulder News Center - Groundbreaking Social Justice Campaign Launched by CU Student Journalists
11. The Chronicle of Higher Education - $16-Million Gift Will Support Campus Diversity and Transfer Students at Berkeley
12. State News (Michigan State University) - Same-sex marriage opponents wrong
13. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - UAF student group lobbies for non-discrimination policy
14. The Daily (University of Washington) - In her shoes
15. The Times of India - ‘AMU action against prof homophobic’
1. The Daily Campus (University of Connecticut), February 4, 2010
11 Dog Lane, Storrs, CT 06268
Gay or straight? Not so clear-cut today
By Annie Maguire
The Rainbow Center hosted a presentation Wednesday on the history of bisexuality and what it has become today. Lisa Jacobs, the president of Transcending Boundaries, Inc., as well as a UConn graduate, spoke about the evolution of bisexuality and her experience as an avid activist and open bisexual for the past 18 years.
Bisexuality came about in the 1970s during what Jacobs defined as the “era of bisexual chic.” Celebrities such as Mick Jagger and David Bowie popularized bisexuality as the latest trend. By the 1980s, gay and lesbian groups were beginning to grow. At that time, bisexuality was not taken seriously; it was thought to be a “phase” or something to describe people who “just couldn’t decide” their sexual orientation. There was even discrimination within the gay and lesbian community against bisexuals, creating a rift between the “true” queer community and the so-called
bisexual “liars,” Jacobs said.
Christina Bennett, a 2nd-semester English major, was surprised by the discrimination against bisexual individuals.
“It was very interesting,” Bennett said, “I didn’t know the gay and lesbian community wasn’t as accepting of bisexuals in the past as they are today.”
It wasn’t until the 1990s that bisexual activism really took off; advocates worked hard for bisexual individuals to be included and accepted among the queer community. Organizations began incorporating the bisexual community into their names, such as the New York Lesbian and Gay Community which became the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community. It was a time of learning and constant workshops so that these orientations could be understood.
By the late 1990s and into the new millennium, bisexuals and transgender individuals came together as the “misfits” of the queer community to become allies and work together during the new movement of sexuality. During this time, many new labels of sexual orientation sprouted; bisexual and transgender individuals were tired of one label and needed new terms to describe who they were. Pan-sexual, omni-sexual, bi-curious, bi-sensual, hetero-flexible, fluid sexuality, gender-queer and a whole list of other terms were created to describe the many individuals in the queer community who felt mislabeled or needed more than one label to describe themselves.
Bethany Sullivan, a 2nd-semester Latin American studies major commented on the long list of sexualities: “It was really eye opening, particularly the number of sexualities; I knew there was a spectrum, I just didn’t realize how great it actually was.”
When Jacobs was asked if so many terms added to the confusion of an already uncertain topic, her’s response was simple:
“Being allied or understood by others is sometimes not as important as knowing and understanding yourself.”
Even if these terms are confusing to others, it helps people understand who they are and that they are not alone.
But what about those who are unsure of what sexual orientation they belong to? Are these labels just phases people go through? According to Jacobs, there are people who change their sexuality all the time.
“Sexuality is fluid; you can’t force it to change, but sometimes it does things you don’t expect,” Jacobs said.
Lisa claims going through these “phases” can actually help people decide where they stand on the sexual spectrum; some use bisexual experiences as a stepping stone before becoming openly gay, lesbian or even straight.
While there are many labels out there in the queer community, some people refuse to label themselves as a protest to the traditional ideas of sexuality. Some refuse to be pigeon-holed, believing labels perpetuate the idea of sexuality; something some believe does not apply to them.
When asked if she thought there would ever be a day when sexuality won’t matter and people can be whoever they are with no labels, Jacobs’ response was hopeful.
“It is the ultimate goal of the queer movement and I think we can get there … it will just take a long time,” she said.
2. The Michigan Daily, February 11, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
In campus classrooms, a question of he and she or ze
By Michele Narov
Timothy Corvidae is a student in the University’s School of Social Work. Corvidae doesn’t identify with any specific gender and uses the pronoun "ze" instead of "she" or "he."
Corvidae is a member of a group of people on campus who face language barriers as a result of their decision to not identify with a specific gender. Though these individuals represent a minority of students, their cause has recently made its way to the forefront of campus discussion.
Recently the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution to recommend removing gender-specific language from the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities and some students and professors are discussing mandating the use of gender-neutral language in University classrooms.
In its simplest form, gender-neutral language encompasses the use of the singular “they” as well as non-binary pronouns like ze, in place of the traditional he/she. This form of speech eliminates any word with connotations of gender like “chairman,” opting instead for the nonexclusive “chair.”
Corvidae said finding alternatives to the traditional gendered language is important because there is an intense level of exclusion in texts that only use binary language.
“I don't identify either way (as male or female),” Corvidae said. “When I read texts that use him or her, I feel like, ‘Where am I in this text?’ And it's as though I'm invisible.”
Anne Hermann, interim chair of the Women’s Studies Department, said eliminating gendered undertones is essential to ensure fairness in language.
“If I were the ‘chairman’ of the Women’s Studies Department, there would be this incredible disconnect between my title and who I am,” she said. “And I would be constantly reminded that I’m not really supposed to be in my position.”
Noah Meeks is a volunteer at the Spectrum Center — the University's office for LGBT affairs. Meeks said traditional debates over gender have been limited to eliminating language associated with men in situations that are meant to be all encompassing.
“We rejected ‘he’ as an all-encompassing pronoun,” he said. “With ‘him or her,’ we need to recognize that some people don't identify with either, and although there are few of them, they still need to be accounted for.”
Meeks said in past years many on campus would be opposed to incorporating gender-neutral language, but now students and faculty are more open to the idea.
“There’s more awareness, more openness and more resistance to the idea of a binary gender system,” he said.
In recognition of non-gendered students on campus, the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution to amend the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities to use gender-neutral language exclusively as part of a package of recommendations to the student code.
The resolution is currently being reviewed by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs — the leading faculty governing body on campus — and if passed, will continue to University President Mary Sue Coleman for final approval.
Loren Sherry, assistant director of the Spectrum Center, helped to compile the resolution. He said that when he went through the approximately 10-page Statement and replaced every use of binary language with a gender-neutral alternative, he was very specific about the choices he made.
“We didn’t foresee gender-neutral pronouns (such as ze) passing, and so we used more repetitive language like ‘the student’ instead,” he said.
In addition to the work by MSA and other student groups, in interviews last week many professors said they agree that gender-neutral thinking should be used in the classroom.
Robin Queen, professor of linguistics, wrote in an e-mail interview with The Michigan Daily that educators should promote awareness about the exclusionary aspects of language.
“The main issue, in my opinion, is to help writers (be they students, administrators, instructors or staff members) become aware that there are choices to be made and that those choices have consequences,” Queen wrote in the e-mail.
Corvidae said teaching gender-neutral language is an important step because so many people are unaware of how to handle gender in their speech.
“One of the biggest challenges with gender-neutral language is that people don't know how to use it,” Corvidae said. “They feel embarrassed if they don’t know how to read people’s gender because that's something that's really important in our society.”
Corvidae said using gender-neutral language in the classroom allows students a “safe setting” to practice non-exclusionary speech.
But though many agree that this inclusive language is important, no LSA department currently holds a gender-neutral language policy.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said a sweeping University policy on the use of gender-neutral language is unlikely because the administration tries to give as much leeway as possible.
“The University tries to avoid regulating speech as much as possible,” he said.
Aric Knuth, lecturer in Department of English, said though he is often skeptical of new policies, he was surprised to hear no policy is in place.
“It surprised me because we are people who are in the business of language,” he said. “And we understand how language interacts with and often represents other kinds of big intellectual problems in our lives.”
Hermann, chair of the Women's Studies Department, said to her knowledge, no professors are calling for a specific policy, and she isn’t sure it is imperative that one is enacted.
“I don’t have anything against it being standardized, but I don’t see a need for it,” she said.
Meeks said even though he fully supports the issue, he’s not necessarily in favor of a specific policy.
“There is balance in making sure people are aware of it and practicing using it versus pushing it to the point where people resist it and there’s a backlash,” he said.
Queen wrote though she would support a departmental policy, it may not be the best route toward addressing the issue.
“The kinds of changes being advocated by policies about gender-neutral language use seem to be especially effective when they come from grass roots, local efforts (e.g. from the bottom up rather than top down),” she wrote.
Despite the lack of an official policy, professors continue to encourage the exploration of different language options.
The Department of English ruled in favor of the singular “they” as grammatically correct, and many professors in the Women’s Studies Department implement gender-neutrality into their curriculum to some extent.
LSA junior Kelsey Sovereign said gender-neutral thinking is strongly encouraged in her women’s studies classes.
“In our society you often are either designated as a man or a woman, but we talk about not necessarily labeling things as one or the other,” she said.
She also said that specific assignments often call exclusively for gender-neutral language.
Keith Reisinger, graduate student instructor for the Women’s Studies Department, said the issue reaches far beyond any departmental policy or the confines of the University.
“I think we as a whole need to change how we talk about gender and people,” he said.
3. Inside Higher Ed, February 18, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
By Scott Jaschik
Grinnell College on Wednesday named its new president -- Raynard S. Kington, deputy director of the National Institutes of Health -- a choice that experts say reflects a subtle shift going on in the presidential selection process at liberal arts colleges.
Kington was educated at research universities and has worked exclusively at research institutions. An expert on the social factors that relate to health and a member of the Institute of Medicine, Kington entered college at 16 and had earned his M.D. by 21.
His selection, some say, reflects an increased willingness of colleges and universities, most notably liberal arts colleges, to consider as presidents people who have never been provosts or presidents at similar institutions, but who have achieved significant accomplishments in other kinds of research or educational institutions. In several other cases, deans of research universities have landed liberal arts college presidencies -- and while that is not new, experts perceive a change in attitude as more institutions embrace this model.
Kington, who is black and gay, also reflects what many see as an increased willingness by many colleges to consider a more diverse pool of leaders than they might have in the past.
Richard Ekman, president of the Council on Independent Colleges, said that less competitive colleges have been selecting non-traditional presidents for some time. Where the pattern is growing, he said, is among more prominent liberal arts colleges that in the past might have been more likely to go with someone with considerable experience in the liberal arts sector.
"More selective institutions are departing from the traditional norms," he said. "The argument is that someone who has extensive experience in a wider institution could be an effective president of a small private college," he said. And when those people come from research universities, many of them "are a job two or three steps down from the presidency," not the provost. (This path is also leading, after some years of concern over the graying of the presidency, to the naming of a number of presidents in their 40s, including Kington, who is 49.)
Consider some new or incoming presidents who moved or are moving from very different institutions. The new president of Dartmouth College (admittedly not a liberal arts college, but an institution that embraces many liberal arts college values) is Jim Yong Kim, who was chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University. Williams College just tapped as its next president Adam F. Falk, a physicist who is a dean at Johns Hopkins University and has spent his entire higher education career at research universities. At Hopkins, Falk followed Daniel H. Weiss, who went from Hopkins (and a career outside liberal arts colleges) to become president of Lafayette College. Hampden-Sydney's new president is Christopher B. Howard, who was previously an administrator of the University of Oklahoma. Marvin Krislov became president of Oberlin College in 2007, coming from the University of Michigan, where he was vice president and general counsel.
Mount Holyoke's new president, Lynn Pasquerella, is an alumna of the college, but her academic career has been at universities (the University of Rhode Island and the University of Hartford). When she takes office, the four liberal arts colleges that with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst make up the Five Colleges consortium will all be led by people whose previous jobs were at universities -- with Hampshire and Smith Colleges led by former officials of the University of California at Berkeley, and Amherst College led by a former Columbia University professor.
To be sure, there have been such appointments in the past, and there are plenty of liberal arts colleges selecting as their leaders people who have held senior positions at other liberal arts colleges. But Ekman and others said that there is an increased willingness to think about different kinds of candidates and to pick them.
"The downturn in the economy has led search committees, including the faculty members on the committees as well as the board members, to place a higher premium on people who will be successful fund raisers and who they believe will be able to manage budgets, including restructuring resources," said one search consultant who asked not to be identified. And those factors count more than prior experience at a similar college, the consultant said.
Several of those who made the transition say that their jobs as deans at large research institutions were so focused on fund raising that search committees knew of their effectiveness on financial matters. Ralph Hexter said that (due to different donor bases) he raised more money as a dean at Berkeley than as president of Hampshire. Thomas Kunkel, who was dean of the journalism school at the University of Maryland at College Park before becoming president of St. Norbert College, said he was raising the same amount there as he does as a president. Lacking that fund raising experience, he said, he doesn't think he would have been a strong candidate for a presidency.
"I think colleges are looking for a set of skills," including commitment to the institutional mission, but they "don't want to be self-limiting" by not considering those with a different path.
Kington, in an interview, said that it is also important to remember that liberal arts colleges themselves are complicated to lead. "I think they realize that the skills needed to run large complex organizations are not just found in the traditional academic community, or in traditional positions," he said.
Susan Resneck Pierce, a senior consultant at Academic Search, said that it's not surprising that deans at research universities are getting presidencies at liberal arts colleges. "The deans function in the same way presidents do, even if not totally," she said. "They tend to be responsible for fund raising, for the budget for their own colleges, for admissions" and more.
At the same time, she said that she sees the job of provosts at liberal arts colleges changing in ways that will make many of them equally viable candidates. She said that provosts are playing much more of a role in fund raising at many of these institutions than they used to, and that those skills will be attractive to search committees.
A Gay President
Kington will also be joining a still small group of openly gay college presidents. The Grinnell press release matter-of-factly included his family: "Dr. Kington; his partner, Peter T. Daniolos M.D., a child psychiatrist at Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University; and their two young children plan to move to Grinnell during the summer and occupy the president’s home at the college."
Hampshire's Hexter, who is also a member of that small group, said that he views the appointment as a sign of progress, of "another glass ceiling shattered." Hexter said that given Grinnell's wealth and stature, and its location in Iowa (which, he added is a progressive state on gay rights, and one in which gay people can marry), Kington will be noticed and will send a positive message to other colleges.
One search consultant who asked not to be identified said that the impact of the appointment on the candidacies of other gay academics for senior positions would vary, based on the attitudes of the institutions involved. This consultant described a recent search for a senior college official where a search committee noted that the finalist pool included female and minority candidates, and expressed concern that it didn't include any gay candidates. (Actually, the search committee members were told that they didn't realize it, but the finalists did include a gay candidate.)
But this consultant noted that not all search committee members are as comfortable with gay candidates, and that Grinnell's prestige could therefore make a difference. "I think the fact that Grinnell has taken that step might make it easier for people who don't have biases to make the argument that people on the search committee who have biases are out of line."
As for Kington, he said that it is "just a matter of time" until there are more gay presidents. He said he hopes he can encourage all kinds of students. "If students can look at me and see possibilities that they otherwise wouldn't have seen, then that's a great thing -- however they see those possibilities, and whether they are minority students or gay students or scientists, or whomever, can look at me and see that I made it."
4. Kansas State Collegian, February 8, 2010
Kansas State University, 116 Kedzie, Manhattan, KS, 66506
Protection in workplace should extend to all
By Jason Strachman Miller
On Feb. 4, Senate Bill 169, adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Kansas’ current nondiscrimination statute, passed on a 5-3 vote. This approval moves Bill 169 to the full Senate for consideration.
Currently there is no Kansas state law prohibiting employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. The Kansas law prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry.
This is not the first time that legislation has been placed before the Senate for consideration. In 2005, an amendment was introduced in the Committee on Federal and State Affairs to add sexual orientation to the Kansas Act Against Discrimination. The amendment failed to pass.
In February 2009, Bill 169 was introduced and Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, had the audacity to ask if the bill would protect bestiality. Making the correlation between sexual relationships concerning two consenting adults and the crime of sexual relations with an animal makes me concerned for the population that this elected official represents. In March 2009, Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said there was not enough support in the Legislature for the measure, and he did not bring the matter up for a committee vote.
With a new year, the state Legislature needs to do the right thing and pass Bill 169. In 2007 Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued Executive Order No. 07-24 prohibiting discrimination and harassment in state employment on account of “race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, military or veteran status or disability status.” When speaking of this order, Sebelius was quoted in the Williams Institute Employment Discrimination Report, saying, “like any successful business, we need to make sure all our employees are treated with dignity and respect and that the doors of employment are open to all.”
K-State and The University of Kansas have adopted nondiscrimination policies that protect on the basis of sexual orientation, and K-State further extends the protection to gender identity. Institutes of higher education tend to adopt progressive policies before the working world does. With nondiscrimination policies extending to sexual orientation and gender identity, universities have clearly demonstrated where they stand on the issue.
With the impending arrival of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and the Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Laboratory, a multitude of other businesses will open in Manhattan. Over the next 10 years, Manhattan is set to experience massive expansion. This is a time to attract high-quality workers. Without a law protecting sexual orientation and gender identity, there remains a large pool of qualified workers who will not seek employment in Kansas.
In January 2008, Jayhawk Consulting Services, an independent nonpartisan polling group, found that 79 percent of people agreed that it is wrong to fire someone for being gay or lesbian. The research indicated that 68 percent of Kansans also favor legislation that bans discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals. The desire of elected officials to push their religious or otherwise-motivated moral views should not be tolerated by a voting public that appears to want Bill 169 to pass.
I agree with this majority and see little reason to deny the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community the right to employment and the ability for people to follow their dreams. The Kansas Legislature needs to do what is morally right and realize that denying a minority population the right to equal opportunity and protection is simply wrong.
One would have thought our nation has learned from our embarrassing past the effects of denying certain groups the same protections the majority enjoys.
- Jason Strachman Miller is a junior in print journalism. Send comments to
5. The Nevada Sagebrush, February 8, 2010
Mailstop 058, Reno, NV 89557
QSU hosts underage events at Neutron
By Enjolie Esteve
The University of Nevada, Reno’s Queer Student Union has been officially hosting 18 and over nights at the local gay club, Neutron, for the past month in hopes of offering underage LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) teens a safe and fun place to party.
When the QSU was approached by Neutron last December to host underage nights, club members jumped at the opportunity.
“We decided to have a partnership with Neutron because there is nothing in Reno for gay teens aged 18-20,” Robert Harding, a 23-year-old criminal justice major and secretary of the QSU, said. “There needs to be a safe place for everyone, and it’s a safe place for younger kids to have a place to party like anyone else.”
QSU president Jeromy Manke, a 22-year-old international business major, said he is happy the QSU and Neutron have offered a new venue for young gay people in Reno.
“The big feature about (QSU hosted nights at) Neutron is that there’s no alcohol and just a ton of dancing and safe, sober fun,” Manke said.
Michael Tierney, the owner of Tronix and Neutron Night Clubs, said although it’s a club, the QSU nights will cater to the underage crowd. “We offer good, clean fun and lock up all the booze and don’t allow any drug usage whatsoever,” he said. “Instead (of alcohol), we serve energy drinks and juice.”
Amanda Aikens, a 21-year-old pre-social work major, just moved to Reno with her girlfriend Melissa Motley, a 23-year-old psychology major, and said she is looking forward to attending QSU hosted nights at Neutron and seeing the more gay-friendly side to Reno.
“I’m really interested in checking out Neutron and what other activities the gay community in Reno has to offer,” Aikens said. “I’m from Las Vegas, so in comparison, Reno seems less open-minded and less gay friendly, but I’m excited to see what gay clubs are up here.”
Motley also said she is adjusting to less openness in Reno.
“To be fair, we haven’t lived here for very long, but it seems to be very overwhelmingly straight, and it’s very hard to swallow,” Motley said. “In Vegas I never worried about my sexuality, but here I have to watch myself.”
Feelings like this are why Manke said it was so important for the QSU to partner up with Neutron and host underage Friday nights. Even though the UNR campus is generally very accepting of gay students, it is important to offer options for the gay community in Reno and make them feel equal and welcome, Manke said.
“Having these events are important for everyone in the gay community to be able to interact and have fun,” Manke said.
Tierney said that although QSU-hosted Friday night events suffered from lack of patronage once the new semester started up again, he thinks that the nights will be a big hit by summer time.
“The first few nights were great and a lot of people came, but it died down when school started,” he said. “Things have been picking up these last few days; 30 to 40 people showed up, and I think it will keep getting better.”
QSU hosts nights at Neutron every Friday, and everyone is invited to enjoy them, Manke said.
“Even though it’s a gay club, Neutron is open to everyone of all sexual orientations,” Manke said. “My straight friends always come and party with us.”
Enjolie Esteve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University), February 10, 2010
123 S. Burrowes St., State College, PA 16801
Photographer hopes to shed positive light on LGBT community
By Julie Lemanski
A soldier's photograph is published in Time Magazine this week -- a soldier who cannot tell anyone that photograph is of him.
That's because the soldier is gay, and in the military he cannot be open about his sexual orientation.
The soldier's photograph was taken by photographer Jeff Sheng, who spoke Tuesday night in front of a small crowd in the HUB Auditorium.
Sheng, who attended Harvard University, came to speak mainly about his "Fearless" exhibition, which features high school and college athletes who openly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The soldier, however, was a part of his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" portfolio.
As a former tennis player, Sheng understands the adversity that comes with being both gay and an athlete, he said. From his personal experience, he could not be both gay and play college sports, but his "Fearless" exhibition portrays students who can, and did.
"These are the kind of stories that really move me," he said.
What Sheng found is that once a person comes out and is accepted by teammates, he or she can continue to fully participate on the team, he said.
In light of this, Sheng formed the "Fearless Campus Tour" which has displayed his artwork on over forty high school and college campuses, as well as at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
His work will even be on display in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which start this Friday.
But getting his work out in the public eye was no easy task, Sheng said. At the University of Florida, he was told he couldn't display his work in the art gallery because it was booked. As an alternative, he asked if he could simply hang his pictures in the hallways where blank walls were decorated with the occasional flyer. It turns out, every student passes through those hallways, giving Sheng's work more attention than it would have received in the art gallery.
"It turns out, that's where every student goes to eat, then to class, then back to eat," Sheng said.
Penn State was able to give Sheng's work potentially just as much attention, with his work being displayed in places such as Rec Hall.
"I'm really proud of Penn State for being able to do that," he said.
Sheng hopes to bring positive light to the shift in the way the world views those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, he said. He remembers being the one who was stared at in class -- something he says other gay students can relate to.
"What I learned is a way to get people to look away. Often, you can just stare back," he said.
Sheng plans to complete his photo book by September, hoping the stories of his subjects inspire others.
"Photography is like tennis," he said. "Sometimes you can see something no one else sees."
7. Duke University, February 2010
02 West Union Building, Box 90958, Durham, NC 27708
"Fearless" photos of LGBT athletes will come to Duke University
Jeff Sheng will bring his Fearless photo exhibition of “out” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes to Duke University on February 24th. Jeff will speak that evening in Scharf Hall in the Krzyzewski Center at 7:30pm about his experience of creating this project while recalling the stories of some of the hundreds of high school and college athletes he’s photographed. The visit is sponsored by the Duke Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life, and Duke Athletics: Student-Athlete Development.
Sheng began photographing LGBT athletes on high school and college sports teams in 2003. As a former athlete, Jeff found a personal resonance with the subject matter, and was most interested in working on an activist art project that would confront the adverse effects of homophobia in The project soon evolved into a photo documentary he called, Fearless.
In 2006, after various colleges expressed interested in having “Fearless” exhibited at their campuses, Jeff started FearlessCampusTour.org, a website and project separate from his other artwork, dedicated to putting exhibitions of “Fearless” at student centers, gyms, and other non-traditional art venues. The idea behind FearlessCampusTour.org was to exhibit the project in highly trafficked areas that many of the people who share a love for sports with these photographed athletes would have a chance to see, instead of venues like art galleries or museums, where the audience would be self-selecting.
Since then, Jeff has exhibited and spoken about Fearless at almost forty different venues, including the 2009 LGBT Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 2009 Sports and Sexuality Conference at Ithaca College, and ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. He will also be exhibiting his work at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, while at the same time expanding “Fearless” to include athletes from Canada.
The Display will remain at Duke University in the University Bryan Center on Thursday, February 25th and Friday February 26th.
The visit was made possible by a CHAMPS/Life Skills grant from the NCAA. Dr. Janie Long, Director of the Duke Center for LGBT Life, noted the importance of the collaborative efforts making the event possible. “We are very fortunate to have received funding from the NCAA to sponsor this event at Duke. We are most appreciative of the efforts of Leslie Barnes (Student-Athlete Development) in securing the grant and look forward to sharing Jeff's outstanding work with the entire Duke campus.”
For more info see: http://www.fearlesscampustour.org or the Duke Center for LGBT Life website: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/lgbt.
8. OutSports.com, February 15, 2010
College lacrosse player comes out to his team
By Andrew McIntosh
I had just finished my junior-year lacrosse season at Oneonta State University in New York when word came that I was going to be a captain of my team for the 2010 season. I was excited. I was honored. I was depressed.
At home I reflected on my life: How will people remember me after I take this bottle of pills so I can just die and no one will ever know I ‘m gay? I could see my funeral being played out: The images brought me to tears as I watched my father, brother and former teammates as pallbearers, all of them wondering why I decided to end my life. “How could Andrew do this to himself? He had it all.”
I had experienced no lonelier point in my life. I felt no one could understand my feelings. Who the hell is gay and plays sports, especially lacrosse?
I remembered the first time I tried to kill myself, after I lost a football game in high school. I thought I should have just hanged myself then and I wouldn’t be dealing with any of these problems…Why I am in love with my best friend Mike?...Why don’t I love some girl like the rest of my friends?...Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else?
It was in the midst of those thoughts that I watched the movie “Milk.” It was the first time I realized that there are other people out there who are closeted and do not want to live. There are people like me. And it was then that I began to wonder: Are there other gay athletes too?
The next day I decided to tell someone I’m gay, and I settled on one of my best friends from home. I would say Mike is the reason I realized I am gay: I had fallen in love with him in college, and I felt ashamed of it. Mike was a teammate of mine in high school and became a great friend throughout college. He is also captain of his college lacrosse team.
I invited him over to my house after we worked out at the gym. I told him I watched “Milk” the night before, and that I really liked it and related to it. That was my first lame attempt at coming out. Then I hinted that I was questioning who I wanted to be with sexually.
“Do you like guys?” He asked.
“I think so,” I said.
I think so. The first time I came out I never even said “I’m gay.” But I did tell him that I didn’t want to live anymore. He stayed with me that whole day and told me over and over that he was fine with me being gay. Of course, I didn’t tell him that I loved him like more than a friend; Better to ease him into that one.
After I told Mike, I decided to tell my sister, who is also gay. I felt she would know some ways to cope with the depression I was feeling. When I called her, she said she had been waiting for that call for years; She was the only one I ever told who didn’t seem genuinely shocked. She and her partner were great resources. One website they told me might help me with the coming out process was called Outsports. And in Outsports I immediately dove into a goldmine for coming out stories just like mine.
The first story I came across was about Andrew Goldstein, also a lacrosse player, at Dartmouth University. I remember in high school I had seen his story on ESPN, but I had subconsciously denied ever seeing it. After reading the article I talked to Andrew, and he provided great insight about being a gay athlete. It was refreshing to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was going through – living a lie, losing sleep, wanting to die – all of the horrible feelings that were destroying me. After talking with Andrew a new feeling came over me…that I was not alone. I had to let people know the real me.
The most comfortable way for me to tell people that I was gay that summer was via email: I was too nervous to say it out loud. When I considered whom to tell next, I remembered a practice a few months earlier. My coach had stopped practice because one of my teammates said that a drill was “so gay”; Coach Dan Mahar immediately said it was unacceptable to say something is “so gay.” That was the first time I had ever seen a coach address people being gay. As I remembered this I typed him an email. This is the email I sent my coach:
First I just want to say that I am happy at Oneonta and I am proud that I will be finishing my collegiate lacrosse career here. I am also happy to have you as my coach and I appreciate the compassion you have for your players and I admire the professionalism you have on and off the field. I know we talk a lot about lacrosse and not much about our personal lives. I am sending this email though to share apart of my personal life with you. Two months ago I came out as being gay and this has been a very hard time in my life. I can't express in enough words the pain I have felt throughout high school and college while concealing this secret. There have been many days in my life when I have felt very depressed and even have had thoughts of suicide. Even with all of these feelings I have maintained my mental toughness and have been able to perform on the field and in the classroom. This experience has truly taught me a lesson about mental toughness. I also want to let you know that you are the first coach I have ever told this to and I am even telling you before my parents. The reason I feel somewhat comfortable telling you is because I remember one time in practice you called someone out for using the term "gay" in a derogatory way and I felt a sense of pride and comfort for the first time about my sexual orientation. I hope this does not alter your opinion of me as a captain, a player and more importantly a person. You can respond back via email or call me which ever is more comfortable for you.
After he read the email, he called to meet with me. He was unfazed. He told me that if we had a roster of 30 players and 15 of them did not want to play on the team because I was gay, he would tell them to leave the team. I felt a new sense of confidence. I felt whole again. I was proud to be playing for not only such a great coach, but a great man who truly cared about the people underneath the uniforms.
A Gay Lacrosse Player
I had increasing confidence about being gay as the fall of 2009 approached. I started going on dates with men and exploring what kind of guy I might want to date. I remember my first date vividly; I was nervous to say the least. I can remember sitting as far away as I could from him because I had no idea what I was doing. All I could think was, I am going to kiss a guy? How does this work? When we eventually kissed, I felt as if things were right in the world. I felt a sense of comfort that only a man could provide me. After my date I can remember listening to George Michael and appreciating his lyrics in a new way, especially those of Freedom ’90: “There’s something deep inside of me, there’s someone I forgot to be.” I felt like I was getting a second chance at life.
After I told my coach I was gay, I decided to let my co-captains know that there was a reason George Michael was on my iPod all the time. Again, they embraced me with open arms. After all of the serious talk we started making jokes about me being gay. I would get texts informing me about gay cruises, or I would tell the captain I have a crush on him, and that he dropped from a 10 to a six if he did not shave or cut his hair.
I did have one teammate find out by accident because I sent him a text saying “hey there handsome,” and it was meant for someone else. He thought I was kidding about me being gay for 20 minutes until he finally accepted that it wasn’t a joke.
Life was normal in the showers. When we talked about our dates, I would comment on the nice arms my date had and they would talk about their girlfriends.
Gaying It Forward
I can recall my first experience at a gay club and feeling like a sixth grader at a dance all over again. I thought I was a decent dancer, but no one has seen dancing until you have been to a gay club. It’s also a very good thing I like Lady Gaga and Madonna, since they seem to be the favorites of gay clubs.
Another interesting aspect of a gay club is that it is completely acceptable for men to take their shirts off. During the summers I am a bouncer at home (or, as I like to say, a professional mediator), but if someone took their shirt off randomly, they would be asked to leave.
I even saw a gay dad with his straight son there because they were celebrating the son’s engagement to his fiancé. That was uplifting because I want to have a family someday.
Today I am in pre-season training hard for our first game of the 2010 season. Not only is it the first season I’ve played lacrosse being openly gay, and not only am I a captain, but it’s my senior year. The coming-out process has involved mixed emotions, but I am finally enjoying my life as a gay man. I appreciate every day I have the opportunity to put on a uniform and compete at a high level with some great looking guys (even though some of them refuse to shave or cut their hair).
Life is great. I am proud to be apart of such a great team (lacrosse team and gay team), and I thank everyone who has supported me through this process.
9. The Keene Sentinel, February 16, 2010
60 West Street, Keene, NH 03431
‘I would if I could’: Group protests blood donation exemption
By Casey Farrar
A group of Keene State College students Monday afternoon stood near the front doors of the Young Student Center asking their classmates and professors not to donate blood for the day.
Upstairs, donors lined up awaiting their turn to give blood at an American Red Cross blood drive — one of two held each year at the school.
It wasn’t the Red Cross, or blood donation in general, that KSC Pride, a coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, was protesting.
The group aimed to raise awareness about a federal policy dating back to 1983 prohibiting men who have had sex with other men since 1977 from donating blood, said Matthew J. Gill, president of the student organization.
Gill, a senior, was among a line of students holding picket signs and passing out fliers with information about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s policy that “defers” gay men from donating blood.
“I would if I could” was scrawled on signs hanging around several student protesters’ necks.
The students were collecting signatures on a petition requesting that the FDA repeal the policy. They plan take the petition to the Student Assembly, made up of representatives of the student body, and college administrators to request their support in sending a letter to the FDA asking for the repeal, Gill said.
The protesters also asked people who signed the petition to not participate in the blood drive that day, but provided information about upcoming blood drives in Keene.
“We’re not saying, ‘Never give blood,’ ” Gill said. “We think the most powerful way to promote recognition would be to withhold blood for the day.
“It’s not like the FDA will notice that so many bags of blood are gone, but the college will notice and our hope is that will urge them to support us.”
In the five hours they stood in the student center, group members collected 463 signatures on their petition, according to Allison Delyani, a member of the organization.
Senior Melissa D. Stopera heard about the protest through Facebook and several friends and decided to sign the group’s petition.
Stopera, who has not donated blood before, planned to donate during Monday’s drive but decided not to in support of the group. She may donate at another drive, she said.
“Looking at the statistics, the reality of the situation is that (the policy) is completely discriminatory right now against gay men,” she said. “I would like the FDA to change the policy.”
Some students, who declined to give their names, said they signed the petition supporting the group’s cause but also decided to donate blood.
The petition even sparked conversation in at least one class on campus Monday.
Linda K. Baker, professor of psychology, said she’d received an e-mail this week about the upcoming protest and decided to discuss it in a senior-level counseling class.
The students have been studying factors that lead to youth violence, including devaluation, or people feeling like they’re valued less than others in the community, Baker said.
“One of the ways in which people can be devalued is to be targeted as a group in the way this policy targets gay men,” she said.
During the blood drive, 111 people showed up to donate and the organization collected 83 units (each unit is roughly equivalent to a pint) of blood, according to Red Cross officials. The goal for the drive had been 70 units.
College officials issued a statement about the protest through spokeswoman Robin Dutcher: “The college supports the way the students are raising the issue. They’ve done it in a responsible and educational way.”
Dutcher said she couldn’t comment specifically on whether administrators would support a letter to the FDA asking for the repeal of the policy.
The FDA, which is the federal agency that regulates the nation’s blood supply, has faced heat in recent years for its policy, and colleges and universities across the country have been at the center of that movement.
Protesters have taken two tacks to make their point: Some colleges, including New York’s Sarah Lawrence College and San Jose State University in California, have banned blood drives on campus, saying they violate anti-discrimination policies; at other schools, gay men have gone about finding donors to give blood in their place.
Officials with the FDA have defended the policy, saying it’s based on statistical information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows gay men are at an increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and other infections that can be transmitted by blood transfusions.
All donated blood is tested for infectious diseases, including HIV.
But opponents of the policy — including organizations that collect blood such as the American Association of Blood Banks, the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers, which have pushed for its repeal — say it is based on outdated data and point to rising rates of HIV and AIDS infection among other population groups who aren’t prohibited from donating.
However, while Red Cross officials oppose the FDA policy, they have also urged officials at colleges not to ban blood drives on campuses.
“The American Red Cross is troubled by any action that makes blood donation opportunities less visible and less convenient for those who are eligible to donate,” according to a recent Red Cross statement on the issue.
Janet Kingsbury Warren, executive director of the Keene-based N.H. West Chapter of the American Red Cross, said she supports the local students’ efforts to raise awareness about the FDA policy, but was concerned that the group was asking people to withhold blood, even for only one day.
“I applaud people to take leadership and speak their mind and that’s a good thing,” Warren said. “But every drive is precious and the concern is that there might be people that need blood that won’t get it.”
Sending people who planned to donate blood during the college drive to other upcoming drives could cause complications like longer waiting times for donors or people who intend to go to another drive but end up missing it for a variety of reasons, she said.
“The most important thing with the drives is visibility and convenience,” Warren said. “Sometimes if people have to go out of their way, they just won’t donate.”
Gill said bringing awareness to the student body about the policy made the protest a success.
“We really just want people to understand that this is a policy, because many people don’t know about it,” he said. “And we want to see it repealed so that anyone can donate blood.”
Casey Farrar can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or email@example.com.
10. University of Colorado at Boulder News Center, February 16, 2010
Office of News Services, 584 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0584
Groundbreaking Social Justice Campaign Launched by CU Student Journalists
Contacts: Danielle Alberti, Amy Herdy, Peter Caughey
Student journalists at the University of Colorado at Boulder are addressing issues of inclusivity and diversity through a bold, groundbreaking new awareness campaign announced today with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis as the keynote speaker.
The CU Independent, CU Boulder's student-run online news publication, launched the campaign, called "Speak Out," from the steps of the terrace of the University Memorial Center on the Boulder campus. The campaign will feature innovative advertising on buses and T-shirts in addition to a revolutionary approach to the CU Independent's reporting assignments.
"I want to applaud this conscientious group of young journalists for generating this campaign," said Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). "By creating awareness among their fellow students, and at the same, creating a forum for that awareness to be expressed, they are profoundly elevating the values of inclusivity and equality at CU-Boulder. They are a credit to the campus, to our state, and to the values of American college students everywhere."
In addition to Polis, speakers at the event included Erin Yoshimura, a cultural intelligence trainer and owner of Empowerful Changes of Arvada, and Nadia Gedeon, a 9News assignment editor and president of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists.
The Speak Out campaign is an endeavor the students have been working on for nearly a year with the CU Independent Student Diversity Advisory Board and TDA Advertising & Design, a Boulder company that donated its time to help with the effort. The campaign is funded entirely by donations and CU Independent advertising revenue. No public funds are involved.
"This wonderful effort showcases a creative approach to the values of diversity and inclusion on our campus," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "Generating dialogue on issues of inclusion can only help to improve our campus climate and help us build on the great progress we have made on diversity in recent years. I congratulate our students at the CU Independent."
CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Danielle Alberti said that the students want to raise awareness and encourage activism through this campaign, providing a forum for voices to speak out against campus issues such as racism, heterosexism, sexism and classism.
Toward that end, Alberti said, the daily online publication intends to devote resources in the form of staff and space on its Web site to this project, beginning a revolutionary reporter "beat" system that focuses on social justice issues.
"As far as we can tell, this kind of beat system has never been done in a news setting," Alberti said. "Having reporters who dedicate their time specifically to social justice issues is really a unique idea for a newsroom. We're excited to see how these stories will add depth to our coverage of the university."
The stories and resources will be supplemented with catchy and fun marketing materials that also carry meaningful messages, including T-shirts and bus advertisements, Alberti said.
The campaign already has received positive feedback from several sources, including Polis, who did not hesitate to be the keynote speaker at the kickoff event once he saw the intelligent and thought-provoking messages behind the student media's campaign, Alberti said.
The students also have received support from throughout the university community, said CU Independent Adviser Amy Herdy, including the University of Colorado Student Union diversity director, the university's Gender Violence Prevention and Education coordinator, the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission and CU-Boulder administration, including DiStefano.
"This campaign truly became a collaboration between the students and many members of the CU community," Herdy said. "Everyone is very excited to see this kind of innovative awareness campaign launched."
11. The Chronile of Higher Education, February 18, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
$16-Million Gift Will Support Campus Diversity and Transfer Students at Berkeley
By Josh Keller
The University of California at Berkeley will announce on Thursday a $16-million donation to support diversity initiatives, including five endowed chairs and a new scholarship fund for students who transfer from community colleges.
The gift is from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, one of the university's largest donors. Robert D. Haas, a trustee of the fund and chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss & Company, said the gift was intended to support both research and teaching on diversity and to cultivate a campus "built on fairness and acceptance."
The five faculty chairs will include one of the nation's first devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equity, the university said. The gift will also establish a $1.5-million endowed fund to support scholarships for transfer students from community colleges, who are a more racially and economically diverse group than those who enroll as freshmen.
Berkeley has managed to enroll only a small numbers of black and Latino undergraduates since California voters banned affirmative action by state agencies, in a 1996 referendum, and pressures from recent state budget cuts have prompted concerns on campuses that those numbers could decline further.
12. The State News (Michigan State University), February 18, 2010
435 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, MI 48823
Same-sex marriage opponents wrong
By Ellen Mitchell
Just ask any of the students at MSU what they think about equal access for gays and lesbians to jobs, housing, government benefits and more. They’ll most likely tell you they’re in favor of them. And why not? College students seem to be more understanding and open to change than generations before them. Ask their opinion on same-sex marriage, however, and that’s where opinions radically get divided.
On Jan. 1, New Hampshire became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Only six weeks after this, two measures were brought to the New Hampshire House that would change that standing. The House voted down both a bill that would repeal the law, and a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. By overwhelmingly defeating two measures that would have taken away gays’ right to marry, the House continues the battle between those who favor same-sex marriage and those who oppose it.
Simply put, limiting the designation of marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Denying marriage to same-sex couples takes away from one group a fundamental and important human right: to marry the person that one loves and to whom one has made a commitment. Those who sought to turn over the legalization of gay marriage in New Hampshire argued marriage is between a man and a woman and is an important institution in society.
But legally, marriage doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s gender. Marriage legally is defined as a civil contract between two people who meet the legal requirements for getting married established by the state. The United States has not yet constitutionally established that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. It is the U.S. federal government that does not recognize same-sex marriage and is prohibited from doing so by the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996. Because of this, prohibiting the union of a same-sex couple might stand up in most courts, but still goes against everything the United States was built on: that every American is entitled to equal rights. It is unfair and unjust to deny marriage in a democracy where civil unions are supposed to be provided to all citizens unilaterally.
Denying one group the right to marry also has many adverse emotional and financial consequences. Even if a same-sex couple has been together longer than most marriages last today, one partner can’t share the benefits of the other like in an opposite-sex marriage. Examples of these benefits include Medicare, Social Security, medical leave and the rights to visit his or her partner in a hospital and make medical decisions if they are incapacitated. Imagine a gay couple that has raised a family together, and one parent dies. Legally, if the children were biologically related to the deceased parent, the surviving partner could have his or her children taken away by the biological relatives of said children. Although the living parent might have raised the children from the moment they were born, under the current law, he or she has no rights to keep their children. Imagine the devastating emotional effects this can have on the children and parents.
Many who are against same-sex marriage argue that marriage between a man and a woman is critical to maintaining social stability, and society pays a high price when marriage is devalued. But in a country where nearly 50 percent of marriages end in a divorce, little white chapels are erected for marriages on the fly and Britney Spears can get an annulment after a mere 55 hours of wedded bliss, how high a value does marriage have in the first place?
Marriage between a man and a woman is nothing but naturalistic fallacy. Just because it’s seen as right and natural by most Americans doesn’t mean it is. Also, this mindset of a sacred union between male and female pertains only to a certain region in a certain time range. Look outside the U.S. and the views of marriage drastically vary from one country to the next. The same goes for views across time. It only is the view of a majority that keeps same-sex marriage from happening, not the laws of nature.
I don’t understand how people can be so against something that doesn’t affect their own lives. People fight so passionately against gay marriage, yet they can’t see the consequences of how their views are hurting those who love each other. What does it accomplish to keep ourselves divided over an issue that should be a given right for all Americans in the first place?
Ellen Mitchell is a State News intern. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, February 19, 2010
P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks, Alaska 99707-0710
UAF student group lobbies for non-discrimination policy
By Staff Report
FAIRBANKS — A University of Alaska Fairbanks student group has again asked the Board of Regents to add sexual orientation to the UA non-discrimination policy.
Members of the UAF Gay-Straight Alliance have asked the regents several times in the past year to update the policy. Tristan Walsh, a member of the group, said at the regents meeting in Fairbanks on Thursday that the UA system lags behind other state universities in its protection of homosexual, bisexual and transgender students and employees.
The board has vowed to address the topic, but Regent Kirk Wickersham said the search for a new UA president has delayed scheduling a formal discussion.
“We are committed to dealing with this this year,” he said.
14. The Daily (University of Washington), February 19, 2010
144 Communications Bldg, Seattle, WA98195-0001
In her shoes
By Celina Kareiva
The second Wade Caves stepped onto stage in his heels, leotard and opaque tights, he could feel the audience’s gaze bearing down on him. But his nerves quieted as he slipped on his sunglasses and the opening lyrics of Lady Gaga’s “LoveGame” reverberated throughout Kane Hall. After a month of attending drag shows, feverish choreographing and the hunt for the perfect pair of heels, it all came down to this.
Caves walked away from last May’s Drag Competition with first place for his animated rendition of Gaga. Determined to do her proud, Caves will also be performing one of the artist’s songs tonight at this year’s event, which starts at 7:30 in Kane 130.
The Drag Competition is an annual tradition on campus, dating back eight years. It started as a talent show for the queer community, but shifted to a drag competition as it grew more popular. Maggie Capwell, the ASUW Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender Commission (GBTLC) director, expects a full house.
“Doing drag was a weird way of venting behind a mask of makeup,” said Caves, who performed under the stage name Loucura Vox. “Nobody really knew who I was. I was under a wig, and I was a different version of me at the time. It was both crazy and empowering … It’s such a liberating experience because you really just tell the world how it is.”
Drag is clothing conventionally worn by members of another gender. Although, most participants from this year and last would argue that a polished performance is not solely about the outfit. Drag is performance art, Caves said, and requires embracing your on-stage self.
This year’s show will feature seven acts, and professional performances by The Royal Knights and local band Team Gina. Capwell hopes that by incorporating acts outside of the university, she can open the door to drag culture. Performers are responsible for their own presentation, and content ranges from choreographed portrayals of Lady Gaga to heavier drag, like “Boylesque,” intended to challenge definitions of gender.
“If you’re going to do a drag show of this size on a college campus, it needs to have moments of lightheartedness, like a group doing ‘Dick in a Box’ or ‘How Lovely to be a Woman,’” explained Capwell. “I’m trying to subtly turn [audience members] into allies. [The show] doesn’t have an overt message, but just by showing up and experiencing drag, students can get the message of gender roles … It’s a celebratory event.”
Tonight marks Capwell’s second year with the show, and she feels that her experience coordinating last spring’s event helped her to create a balanced message of entertainment and purpose in this year’s production. But Capwell is quick to point out that this isn’t exclusively about the queer community; it’s a celebration of ally-ship. Everyone from audience members to the event judges will be dressing in drag to demonstrate support for the stage acts.
“What I would hope from people watching these performances is that the lines for where we can draw gender are not nearly as black and white as we were told, and it’s really time to start initiating that conversation on an everyday level,” Caves said. “The humor aspect is a unifying front. It’s something that brings everyone back together to get people prepped for a serious conversation.”
Caves said that humor is a short walk from ridicule, and by creating a mindful atmosphere, audience members are introduced to the concept of nonbinary gender roles and gender-bending without feeling that they are being hit over the head with a message.
“There’s not really a message for me; it’s just entertainment … Although I’m positive that there will be a ‘Lady Gaga-off’ at some point in the show,” said Benjamin Ou, a member of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, who will participate in this year’s show.
“The conventional idea of gender is that there are two genders — male and female – which is actually not true,” Capwell said. “There are multiple genders, and the drag show showcases some of them by challenging our perceptions of what it means to be male and female.”
Gender, she said, is a social construction, and many people identify outside of the traditional binary as gender queer, intersex or cisgender (individuals who perform different genders than those they are assigned at birth).
“I don’t do drag regularly, and I hadn’t danced before this,” Caves said. “But just like every gay guy on that stage, every gay girl on that stage, and everyone in between … we’re up there making a point. The purpose is to raise awareness about basic human rights and human equality, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.”
Reach reporter Celina Kareiva at email@example.com.
15. The Times of India, February 20, 2010
Dr. D N Road, Fort CST, Mumbai
‘AMU action against prof homophobic’
By Smriti Singh
NEW DELHI: The suspension of an Aligarh Muslim University professor after he was filmed — allegedly with the active connivance of a section of the academic community — having consensual sex with a rickshaw-puller at his home has outraged the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and legal circles.
While some described the action taken by the university as ‘‘extremely homophobic’’, others said it was ‘‘re-victimising the victim’’. Legal experts feel the university can be in serious trouble for going against what is law of the land now.
‘‘It is shocking to see how the university has reacted to the incident. It seems as if no one in the university has a right to live his or her own life the way they want,’’ said Prince, a transgender.
Anjali Gopalan, founder of NGO Naz foundation that works for spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS among LGBTs, slammed the university, saying: ‘‘Will they catch a man who is having sex with a woman who is not his wife in his house and suspend him? Action needs to be taken against the university for doing an illegal thing.’’
The university’s decision to suspend the professor, Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, reader and chairman of Modern Indian Languages Department, who is on the verge of retirement, for ‘‘gross misconduct’’ goes against Delhi high court’s landmark judgement which decriminalised homosexuality last year, making it possible for two consenting same sex adults to have sex.
Coming out in full support of the professor, legal fraternity says conducting virtually a sting operation on a man and capturing what he does behind closed doors is gross violation of his right to privacy. Criticising the varsity’s action, Aditya Bondopadhyay, a lawyer and gay rights activist said that instead the people who filmed the act should be punished. ‘‘What happened was atrocious and a most horrible thing. Instead of suspending the professor, it is the people behind the incident who should be investigated,’’ he said. ‘‘The university has no locus standi to suspend a person for what he does in his personal life. The action is illegal and can be challenged in court,’’ he added.
Lawyers say that even the suspension memo that was served on Siras by the office of the AMU Registrar, which described his act as a prima facie case of ‘‘gross misconduct’’ under Rule 403-C of the statute of the university, is illegal as the Delhi HC judgment that interpreted Section 377 is applicable throughout the country. ‘‘Most employment contracts have language that loosely interpret gross misconduct. Although these speak of acts of moral turpitude, after the HC’s judgment, this has all become irrelevant,’’ explained Bondopadhyay.
While the professor chose not to question the university in order to bury the ‘‘embarrassing episode’’, senior counsel K T S Tulsi said the university’s action can very well be challenged by the professer in court as after decriminalisation of homosexuality, the varsity cannot describe his act as gross misconduct as it is no more a criminal activity. ‘‘The action taken by the university is illegal and incorrect. Even the rules of conduct of universities do not have any provision to suspend a person on these grounds,’’ said Tulsi.
If he wants, the professor can very well file a criminal as well as civil suit against the uiversity, say lawyers. ‘‘From invasion of privacy to defamation of sorts, the professor can surely fight back. All the university did was to re-victimise the victim who was filmed by strangers,’’ Bondopadhyay said.
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