The Out to Lunch Gender, Sexuality and Community Lecture Series (OTL Lecture Series) is a weekly academic lecture and discussion series with guest scholars and community activists from various disciplines examining a variety of topics related to gender identity, gender expression and sexuality. Each semester offers a broad sampling of the existing research and current activism on topics that may include public health, religion, spirituality, business, military, science, K-12 education, families, immigration, literature, politics, law, community organizing, history, violence, race & ethnicity, age, counseling, therapy, sports, romance, policy and many other areas.
Out to Lunch is a interdisciplinary lecture series that focuses on queer studies. All lectures are scheduled for Wednesdays at noon at the Rainbow Center, Student Union 403, unless otherwise posted. Undergraduate students have an option to take the lecture series as a credit-bearing class UNIV 2500, “Gender, Sexuality and Community: Queer Studies in an Interdisciplinary Approach.” One does not have to be enrolled in the class in order to attend any or all of the lectures.
A listing of previous Out to Lunch Lectures can be found here.
Fall 2017 roster
September 6: Tom Long; “A Lecture on Faith & Religion within the LGBTQIA+ Community”
September 13: Sarah Prager; “Queer, There, and Everywhere: How Queer History Shaped our World”
Synopsis: Queer people have changed the world, from inventing the computer to inventing the high five. Sarah Prager’s new book, Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, brings the stories of twenty-three of these individuals to life. Sarah will share the lives of artists like Lili Elbe who was one of the first people to receive gender confirmation surgery in the 1930s, athletes like Glenn Burke who battled homophobia as a MLB player in the 1970s, leaders like Roman emperor Elagabalus who ruled as female in the 200s AD, religious figures like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz who wrote lustful poems to another woman from her Mexican convent in the 1600s, and queer rights activists who made an impact on the course of history.
How far back does queer history go? How do we know if queer people existed before recorded history? Since the terms in “LGBT+” are relatively new, what language can we use to refer to queer people of the past? Can we even call anyone from the past queer if they lived in a time without that concept? Why does the sexuality of a history-maker matter? This lecture will cover a discussion of these questions along with non-Western queer history, the changing concepts of gender throughout time and place, and queer persecution and resilience. There will also be readings from the book.
Biography: Sarah Prager is the author of Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World and the creator of the Quist mobile app, two resources that teach queer history outside of the textbook. Sarah’s writing has been published in The Advocate, Huffington Post, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, It Gets Better Project’s blog, and various other newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World was published in May 2017 by HarperCollins. It has been awarded a Kirkus Star, nominated for a New England Book Award, and is an official selection of the Junior Library Guild. Quist, a free app for iOS, Android, and Windows, brings LGBTQ and HIV history to life for a following of over 35,000 from over 100 countries. Raised in Simsbury, CT, Sarah now lives in Wallingford, CT with her wife and daughter.
September 20: Brian Edwards; “XXX”
September 27: Laura Saunders; “A Lecture on Suicidality within the LGBTQIA+ Youth Community”
Biography: Laura Saunders, PsyD ABPP is a staff psychologist working in Young Adult Services at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. She is also Board Certified in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Saunders has expertise in child psychopathology, behavior management, child development, mood disorders and family therapy. In addition, she has been involved professionally with LGBTQ youth for over 20 years. She appears regularly in local TV news to provide psychological input on topics relevant to children and families. She maintains a small private practice at the Rainbow Center for Children and Families in Wethersfield, CT.
Dr. Saunders has been named the Clinical Coordinator of a new LGBT Intensive Outpatient program in Young Adult Services for individuals struggling with significant emotional distress, minority stress and identity development. This program is the first of its kind in CT.
October 4: Jean Randich & Lindsay Cummings; “Gender, Sexuality, and “Bunburying” in The Importance of Being Earnest“
Synopsis: Oscar Wilde is one of the best known literary figures of the Victorian era. He was also persecuted for his sexuality in a series of trials that are often credited as marking a shift in the way Victorians thought about sexuality and identity. This talk considers the ways in which Wilde challenged Victorian gender and sexual norms, both in his life and in his writing. In particular, the director of CRT’s upcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest (Oct. 5-15) will address the way Wilde flirts with social norms in all of his characters, destabilizing binaries and social rules at every turn. We will consider Wilde’s notions of performance and self-presentation in light of today’s changing notions of gender and sexual fluidity, and ask what one wild thinker from the Victorian age might teach us today.
Biography: Jean Randich is a writer and director who has been creating new work and re-envisioning classic plays and musical theater for thirty years. Recent work includes: An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Pace), Six Characters Looking for an Author by Pirandello, (Nevada Conservatory Theater), and Antigone by Sophocles (NAATCO). She has also directed in Germany and Norway. Jean is the winner of the NEA/TCG Director Fellowship, a Fox Foundation Grant to work in Norway, and has served as the George Abbott Resident Director at New Dramatists. With Robert Murphy, Ms. Randich is co-founder and Artistic Director of Collider Theater. Ms. Randich is Professor of Drama at Bennington College, as well as a Faculty Member at NYU Tisch. Masters in Creative Writing — Brown University; MFA in Directing –Yale School of Drama. http://www.jeanrandich.com/.
Dr. Lindsay Cummings is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts and Affiliate Faculty with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and El Institute: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. Her research interests include feminist performance, affect theory, Latinx theatre, and theatre for social change. Her book Empathy as Dialogue in Theatre and Performance was published in 2016. Cummings serves as the Connecticut Repertory Theatre Dramaturg, overseeing outreach and educational activities across the campus and in the wider community. She received her PhD from Cornell University in 2011.
October 11: Bilal Tajildeen; “Says Who?: 20th Century Queer Identity through Literature”
Synopsis: This lecture will examine the development of a queer identity by unpacking tropes, metaphors, and references found in literature, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. The goal will be to offer students a perspective on modern topics (e.g., the homosexual agenda, the madness and moroes of LGBTQ folk, lesbians as masculine figures, gay men as free spirited deviants) by tracking the emergence of these ideas..
Biography: Bilal Tajildeen has been a lecturer on queer history and queer literature since 2014, offering classes and facilitating conversations in community centers and older adult institutions around the Greater Waterbury and Lower Naugatuck Valley areas. Currently, he is working on his thesis-track master’s degree in English at CCSU, focusing on the development of queer culture and identity using a Foucauldian approach. He works fulltime as a program coordinator and community organizer at the Connecticut Community Foundation in Waterbury, CT.
October 18: Patrick McGrady; “Subcultural Identity Work and Social Stigma in the Bear Subculture”
Synopsis: The Bear culture emerged in the late 1970s amidst the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and early stages of the gay rights movement. Since its beginnings, the culture has proliferated across the globe with bear events, social clubs, dating applications, and marketing. This talk conceptualizes the bear community as an “alternative subculture” with its own forms of cultural codes, policing, and identity work that make it distinct within the gay community. In doing so, Dr. McGrady explores the potential of resistance towards weight stigma in the gay community, the production of masculinity, and the implication of the changing cultural norms.
Biography: Dr. McGrady is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of New Haven. His work considers the intersections amongst gender, embodiment, sexuality, and identity work. Currently he is conducting an ethnographic of the LGBTQ choral movement.
October 25: Sherry Zane; “XXX”
November 1: Jama Shelton; “LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: Structural Barriers & Innovative Responses”
Synopsis: LGBTQ youth and youth of color are overrepresented in the population of youth experiencing homelessness. Service providers report that the LGBTQ youth they work with are more likely to experience physical and mental health issues, and are more likely to be homeless for longer periods of time than cisgender and heterosexual youth. The disparities are greater for transgender youth. What are the reasons for this disproportionality and what can be done to address it? Based on 9 years of direct practice experience with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, 4 year of national organizing work to address LGBTQ youth homelessness, and current research projects conducted with transgender youth experiencing homelessness, Dr. Shelton will discuss the state of LGBTQ youth homelessness in America.
Biography: Jama Shelton, MSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dr. Shelton’s research examines the needs and experiences of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and the service providers with whom they work. In particular, Dr. Shelton is interested in identifying and addressing systemic barriers rooted in hetero/cisgenderism that frequently constrain the successful transition out of homelessness for LGBTQ youth and young adults. Previously, Dr. Shelton served as the Deputy Executive Director of the True Colors Fund. In this role, Dr. Shelton was engaged in systemic change efforts directly informed by years of direct practice experience. Having worked in the areas of clinical practice with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, as well as program development, evaluation, research, technical assistance and training, Dr. Shelton brings a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing both LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and also the service providers with whom they work. Most recently, Dr. Shelton co-edited the peer-reviewed text Where Am I Going to Go? Intersectional Approaches to Ending LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada and the US, published by the Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.
November 9: Timothy Bussey; “A Lecture on Transgender Servicemembers in the Military”
November 15: Misty Ginicola; “History & Current Issues Surrounding Two Spirit Identities”
Synopsis: The history of Two Spirit (Native American LGBTQI+) identities pre- and post-colonization will be discussed. The current issues for Two Spirit persons will also be addressed. The spiritual roles of Two-Spirits and its application of philosophy to non-Native LGBTQI+ populations will also be highlighted..
Biography: Misty M. Ginicola is a Professor in the Counseling and School Psychology department at Southern Connecticut State University and a Research Associate at Yale University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and operates a private practice called, Walk in Balance Counseling. Her research and clinical specialties surround multicultural counseling, specifically working with LGBTQI+ clients, and creative counseling techniques. Misty identifies as two-spirit and is of Cherokee and Celtic descent.
November 22: No lecture due to Thanksgiving Break
November 29: Debanuj DasGupta; “A Lecture on Transgender Migration”
December 6: Pat Newcombe; “Intersexuality and the Law”
Synopsis: Dean Newcombe will provide an overview of the many issues involved in the discussion of intersexuality and the law: the medical intervention for individuals with intersex traits and its legal framework, the confines of treating gender as a binary system, discrimination against intersex individuals, the human rights issues surrounding intersexuality, the impact of the intersex activist movement and its intersection with other movements, some foreign approaches to intersexuality, and possible U.S. judicial and statutory reforms.
Biography: Pat Newcombe has served as the Associate Dean for Library and Information Resources at Western New England University School of Law since 2011. She is an Associate Professor of Law and teaches Lawyering Skills, Advanced Lawyering Skills, and Advanced Legal Research. Dean Newcombe serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate of Hampden County. A graduate of Western New England University School of Law, she also served as the Articles Editor for the Western New England Law Review.