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.
Spring 2017 roster
January 25: Mehammed Mack; Islam, Sexuality, and Globalization in the Age of the ‘War on Terror’
Synopsis: In this talk, Professor Mack will start by offering a brief introduction to perspectives on sexuality in Islamic countries and their Diasporas, perspectives that have shifted historically and according to whether one uses a “Western” or “Eastern” lens. He will then discuss how Muslims’ views on sexuality have become a political issue in the European immigration debate, as well as stateside. Drawing from his just-released book Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture, he will explain how Muslims’ acceptance in European countries is based on whether they have the “right” attitudes about gender and sexuality. Concepts like “sexual nationalism,” “homonationalism,” and “pink-washing” will be clarified and hopefully debated in class. He will conclude by discussing how gay asylum policies may change as a result of recent violent attacks in Europe and the US, and he will also offer some personal anecdotes about the challenges of teaching about sexual diversity in the Islamic world and Muslim Diaspora in a post-9/11 age.
Biography: Mehammed Amadeus Mack is an Assistant Professor in French Studies and SWG (The Study of Women and Gender) at Smith Colleege in Northampton, Massachusetts, who earned his Ph.D. in French and comparative literature from Columbia University, where he completed a dissertation titled “Immigration and Sexual Citizenship: Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Contemporary France.” His first book Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture has just been released at Fordham University Press. His research focuses on contemporary immigration to France, gender and sexuality, diversity in the banlieues (multi-ethnic French suburbs), and the relation between culture and politics. His larger teaching and research interests include Franco-Arab cultures, travel literature, the development of Islam in France and media studies. He has published articles in the Journal of Arabic Literature, Comparative Literature Studies, Hétérographes, Jadaliyya, SITES, Al Jazeera English and Newsweek. Mack worked as a journalist at the LA Weekly prior to entering academia. He loves tennis, gardening, electronic music and snow sports.
February 1: Monika Doshi; “Sexual Minorities, Human Rights & HIV/AIDS”
Synopsis: This talk will focus on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and sexual minorities, specifically men who have sex with men (MSM). A brief review of current guidelines for prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among MSM will be followed by case studies from work on the ground in India and Kenya. Within these two geographic contexts, we will examine the social, cultural, political, and economic context that shapes HIV risk practices and barriers to health services, including the impact of human rights violations on HIV vulnerability.
Biography: Ms. Doshi is the Principal of Saath, a small public health consulting firm based in Connecticut. Her research areas include: (a) HIV/AIDS, (b) Health and Human Rights, (c) Chronic Disease, (d) Maternal and Child Health, and (e) Women’s and Reproductive Health. She has been involved in HIV/AIDS research, specifically working with key populations (communities at greater risk for HIV acquisition), in Asia and Africa over the last 12 years. She is currently working on two research projects with the University of Manitoba: (a) one in Kenya to understand and address the individual, social, environmental, and structural factors that shape the HIV vulnerability of male sex workers in Nairobi and (b) the other in China, India, and Kenya to examine the social and cultural issues related to introducing future HIV vaccines among female sex workers and men who have sex with men. In the past, she has worked with UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy on an NIH funded HIV prevention research project in South Africa to study engagement and retention in care of recently diagnosed HIV-positive individuals who are not eligible for antiretroviral medications. She has also worked with the Enhancing Care Foundation and the Eastern and Southern Africa Knowledge Hubs Network (Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda) on a blended learning training course for the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among men who have sex with men and transgender people. As a Connecticut Health Foundation Health Leadership Fellow and through funding from Yale University, Ms. Doshi conducted research on HIV risk behaviors and prevention needs of transgender populations in partnership with the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective and the Institute for Community Research. Many moons ago, Ms. Doshi began her work in public health and human rights with Avahan, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s India AIDS Initiative, through the American India Foundation’ s William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service. She was a member of the technical team that initiated the first HIV prevention program in the state of Karnataka through BMGF funding. Ms. Doshi holds a Master in Public Health and a Certificate in Health and Human Rights from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
February 8: James Clark; “Avoiding One More Exclusion: Extending Victim Services to The LGBTQ Community”
Synopsis: LGBTQ persons are significantly more likely to be victims of violent crime than the cisgender community. Traditionally, victim service organizations have focused on sexual assault against straight women. In recent years, these providers have consciously expanded services to encompass other groups, such as men and LGBTQs. There is still much left to do, and much to learn about the needs of LGBTQ persons. The mission statement of Victim Rights Center of Connecticut specifically names “violence against LGBT persons” as a focus area of their no-fee legal services. This talk will explore legal rights and remedies available to LGBTQ victims of physical and sexual violence, and will engage the audience concerning culturally competent victim-centered legal assistance for this community.
Biography: Attorney James Clark founded Victim Rights Center of Connecticut, the only non-profit in the State of Connecticut providing no-fee, victim-centered, legal representation to victims of violent crime, in July 2013. Mr. Clark prosecuted violent crimes in Connecticut for more than twenty years, serving and interacting with victims on a daily basis. From 2010-13, he taught graduate courses on sexual assault, victim and offender behavior, and victims’ rights at the Army’s law school in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attorney Clark co-founded San Francisco’s first Temporary Restraining Order clinic in 1979. Mr. Clark has written about women’s basketball for national publications since 1996. He is a competitive triathlete who will represent the USA in the off-road triathlon World Championship in August 2017
February 15: Sheldon Raymore; “Two Spirit – Past, Present, Future and Reclaiming Traditional Roles in Native America”
Today’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Native American Cultural Society/Programs Office the University of Connecticut, Student Union room 416B.
Synopsis: from Native Peoples Magazine: The phrase “two spirit” began to gain traction across Native America after 1990, when 13 men, women and transgender people from various tribes met in Winnipeg, Canada, with the task of finding a term that could unite the LGBTQ Native community. Numerous terms in tribal languages identified third genders in their cultures that encompassed both masculine and feminine, and the struggle for those gathered in Winnipeg was finding a contemporary term that would be embraced across all tribal cultures. The attendees at the gathering settled on “two spirit.” They wanted a term that “reflected the combination of masculinity and femininity which was attributed to males in a feminine role and females in a masculine role,” says author Sabine Lang in the book Men as Women, Women as Men: Changing Gender in Native American Cultures. Many two spirit, historically, were keepers of traditions, tellers of the stories of creation, and healers.
Sheldon Raymore will speak about the concept of Two Spirit people and their places in today’s contemporary Indigenous societies. The presentation will begin with prayer and cleansing.
Biography: Sheldon Raymore is from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation and currently resides in New York City. He is the Outreach Coordinator at the American Indian Community House which was established in 1969. He is a Native American Storyteller, Activist, Visual Artist, Actor, Choreographer, and an award winning Grass Dancer. In 2015 he starred in ABC’s Born to Explore with Richard Weiss “Legend of Dance” where he was the featured grass dancer at the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC. He’s also danced for the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers at the Theatre for the New City. Sheldon Raymore is a member of the East Coast Two Spirit Society (EC2SS) leadership council and serves as chair. The East Coast Two Spirit Society (EC2SS) is devoted to Two Spirit Native American and First Nations communities and the reduction of bias and discrimination due to lack of information. The EC2SS provides information to the general public and support and services to Two Spirit Natives, formerly known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming. EC2SS works to increase the positive visibility of Two Spirit communities and to provide safe, supportive opportunities for social, traditional and recreational interactions that are culturally appropriate to them. EC2SS also strives to reach Two Spirit youth and their families, to provide emotional support, care and a community of people who have experienced the challenges of being Native and Two Spirit, often while living and working in Native and other communities where they may not be fully welcomed or supported themselves.
February 22: Michael Mink; “Stress, Stigma, and Sexual Minority Health: The Intersectional Ecology Model of Sexual Minority Health”
Synopsis: Heteronormative environments produce elevated stress and unique stressors for sexual minorities, which increase the risk for a number of negative health behaviors and outcomes. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a seminal report that detailed health disparities experienced by LGBT people and called for a comprehensive approach to sexual minority health research. In response to this report, the Intersectional Ecology Model of Sexual Minority Health (IEM) was designed to measure, explore, explain, and predict the impact of sexual minority status on health outcomes. It interposes the stress cycle within the social context, reflecting how the relentless hyper-vigilance of sexual minorities in a heteronormative society increases negative health risks for these groups. This presentation explains the elements of this model and explores practical applications for health professionals.
Biography: Dr. Michael D. Mink is a public health educator, scholar, and community health advocate with more than 25 years of experience working in academic, government, and community-based organizations to promote policies and programs that encourage holistic wellness. He is currently an Associate Professor of Public Health at Southern Connecticut State University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in health promotion, program planning, and public health management. His research focuses on food marketing, sexual minority health, violence and drug use. His research has been featured in over 150 news outlets in 17 countries and recognized by the National Rural Health Association, the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the South Carolina Public Health Association, and the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
March 1: Erica Hartwell; “Bilateral Erasure: Understanding Straight & Gay Biphobia”
Synopsis: Despite increasing support for lesbian and gay individuals, the same degree of tolerance has not extended to bisexual individuals, and bisexual invisibility and biphobia are continuing problems that affect the mental health and well-being of bisexual people. This talk will briefly review research on ways bisexual people experience health disparities and social discrimination before presenting the problem of bisexual erasure and biphobia through Kenji Yoshino’s epistemic contract of bisexual erasure. Finally, Dr. Hartwell will provide specific strategies to counter biphobia, increase bisexual visibility, and engage with bisexual politics to challenge social conventions.
Biography: Dr. Erica Hartwell is an Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fairfield University, where she teaches graduate courses in social justice, couple therapy, family therapy, research methods, and a new course on therapy with LGBTQ youth and families. Her research focuses on various LGBTQ and social justice issues, including therapist training, affirmative therapy, mental health, and research methods. She is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Connecticut and maintains a small private practice focused on serving LGBTQ clients and their families.
March 8: Arnab Dutta Roy; “Reading Androgynies: a critique of sexuality in world mythologies and religions”
Synopsis: In this talk, Arnab Dutta Roy will explore the question of sexuality and tradition through a reading of androgyny in certain underexplored Hindu scriptural and folk traditions (for instance, the mythical figure of ‘Ardhanarishvara’ and the mysticism of Chaitanya). His basic aim will be to evaluate the extent to which such a reading can become subversive to existing dogmatic prescriptions of Hindu patriarchy and unreflective heteronormativity. Hence, he will also examine whether such a reading can allow new ways of articulating tradition as inclusive of diverse forms of sexuality and gendered expressions. The alternate understanding of tradition derived from this study will ultimately be related to certain contemporary discussions on Queer studies, particularly addressing questions of social advocacy and representation of the LGBTQ community in India.
Biography: Arnab Dutta Roy is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) at the Literatures, Cultures and Languages department of the University of Connecticut. His research interests include Postcolonial Studies, India Studies, Human Rights, Gender Studies, Posthumanism, Theories of Universals, Narrative and Cognition. Currently, he is writing his dissertation, titled Ethical and Empathic Universals in the Study of Indian Literary Traditions. His works have been published by journals such as the South Asian Review, and Humanities.
March 15: No lecture due to Spring Break
March 22: Simone Puleo; “The Boxer’s Locker Room: Fascist Era Masculinities in Italian Cinema”
Synopsis: The presentation explores a cultural history of Italian Fascism, in which homosexuality is suppressed and often criminalized. Gay men “discovered” in Fascist Italy were often shunned, interned, or imprisoned, segregated from the general population, as was the case with the Isole Termiti (Termiti Islands). The public presence of gay men threatened the heteronormative image of virile masculinity that the Fascist regime so desperately wanted to project. However, film directors from the Fascist period, and others later, often include non-heteronormative representations of masculinity – at times, to show that homoeroticism and same-sex attraction persisted no matter how much Fascists tried to deny, suppress, or erase them, and to document how gay men (and all members of the LGBTQ+) were persecuted under the Fascist regime. For example, Lo Spagnolo or “the Spaniard,” a minor character in Luchino Visconti’s neorealist classic Ossessione (1943) is forced to lead the life of a vagabond because of his sexuality. Though Lo Spagnolo is shown to live on the margins of Fascist society, Visconti does not characterize him as “morally deviant”.
Non-heteronormative representations of masculinity take center stage in later films that return to the Fascist period such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970) and Guliano Montaldo’s Gli occhiali d’oro or The Gold Rimmed Glasses (1987). The Conformist explores the life of a Fascist spy named Marcello Clerici. The film’s conflict arises from Clerici’s own repressions: though he works as a Fascist spy, he secretly harbors liberal, anti-Fascist political sentiments – and though he takes a wife, fathers a child, and conforms publicly to Fascist heternormative conceptions of masculinity, he is secretly a gay man. Furthermore, The Gold Rimmed Glasses takes place in 1938 and features an affluent doctor named Athos Fadigati. Set in the town of Ferrara, the film shows the state-mandated discrimination and persecution of Italian Jews after the passing of the Italian Racial Laws. With state-mandated, anti-Semitic discrimination in the background, Dr. Fadigati is discovered to be a gay man by community and is subsequently shunned. While the Italian Racial Laws did not have explicit provisions regarding gender or sexuality, these films show that very strong sentiments of hatred and disapproval existed in Italian society and were unofficially sponsored by the Fascist Regime. All these films are anti-fascist and arguably explore the lives of gay characters to undermine the violent, macho conceptions of masculinity that proliferated during Fascism and remain to this day.
Biography: Simone Puleo is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. His dissertation focuses on how 19th American authors imagined Italy and engaged the discourses of the Risorgimento, the Italian unification movement, for the purposes of their own nation building project. His broader interests include American literature and culture, Italian literature and culture, travel writing, studies in nationalism and transnationalism, comparative and interdisciplinary approaches.
March 29: Kevin Henderson; “Rethinking Public Sex and Queer Belonging”
Synopsis: What does a culture of public sex mean for LGBT people today? The standard view is that America has “progressed” on gay and lesbian relationships: institutions and individuals are said to be more accepting of gay and lesbian relationships than ever before. Such acceptance is evidenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. The majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges read, “No union is more profound than marriage…Their [gays’ and lesbians’] hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.” Such a view seems to be starkly at odds with sexual subcultures that historically saw public sex with strangers—rather than marriage—as an avenue to freedom, personal development, collective intimacy, ending shame, and community building. At the same time, public sex institutions like pornographic theaters, leather bars, and tearooms are disappearing and public sex is increasingly viewed as an anachronism.
This presentation questions narratives of gay and lesbian progress by examining the history of queer public sex and modes of policing sex in the present. We will explore public sex institutions and spaces, and we will study the kinds of relationships that public sex sustained. By looking at public sex through Samuel Delaney’s notion of “contact,” we will rethink present possibilities for enacting alternative queer relationships and interrogate our understandings of loneliness and connection. Further, we will see how shifting forms of policing and surveillance, urban development and security paradigms, gentrification, and social media technology are instituting new regimes of normalization around public sex and sexual publics.
Biography: Kevin Henderson is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is also a student in the program for Advanced Feminist Studies through the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department at UMass. Kevin’s research focuses on the history of political thought, contemporary queer, feminist, and critical race theories, protest and social movements, sexual economies, prisons and sex offender laws, and on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ history. In 2016, Kevin became the ViiV Healthcare Point Scholar.
April 5: Hayden Kristal; “GaySL: A Crash Course in LGBTQ American Sign Language”
Today’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for Students with Disabilities at the University of Connecticut, which will be providing an American Sign Language interpreter during the lecture presentation.
Synopsis: This highly interactive, variable, and hilarious workshop teaches its participants LGBTQ-related American Sign Language signs while fostering a group discussion about Deaf culture, intersectionality, accessibility and more. During the presentation participants will be encouraged to sign along as we learn the signs for GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, QUEER, GENDER, ALLY, COMING-OUT, PARTNER, BINARY, DRAG KING/QUEEN, IDENTITY, RAINBOW, PRIDE, etc., as well as requested signs. The signs serve as jumping off points for discussion about the intersection of Deafness and Queerness. (Example: ALLY- how does Deaf culture perceive LGBTQ people? How are the Deaf received by the LGBTQ community? What can you do to be a better ally to both groups?) The goal for this workshops is not that participants will leave fluent in ASL. The point is to get people thinking about Deafness, disability, and the struggles faced by LGBTQ people who are also Deaf or disabled; to inspire people to learn more, and create accessibility to allow ALL LGBTQ people to utilize their resources and participate in their events.
Biography: Hayden Kristal is a Deaf, bisexual, Jewish, transgender activist and stand-up comedian. Living his life at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities led him to a career as a professional speaker exploring the intersections of disability, gender, sexuality, particularly within the spheres of activism and social justice. He has brought his funny, engaging, and interactive workshops and speeches to dozens of conferences and schools all across North America. In 2016, he delivered his first TEDxTalk, and was the recipient of a Catalyst Award from the University of Missouri for his dedication to creating change for and within the LGBTQ community. He was a semifinalist in NBC’s StandUp 2016 and is a finalist for the Writer’s Mentorship Program with Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
April 12: Jackie Frankovich; Identity Matters: Political Campaign Organizing and the Roles of Gender and Sexuality
Synopsis: This talk focuses on providing a detailed narrative around campaign life—i.e. what campaign workers do, what expectations they have, and how they interact with voters and their peers. While this talk explores these key aspects of this line of work, it also engages the ways in which identity matters in regards to all of the latter points. By way of narrative and personal experience, Frankovich will engage the ways in which gender and sexuality might create barriers in the realm of political organizing, while also seeking to understand both the importance of identity and the roles of sexism and homophobia. As such, this talk conceptualizes who might experience these issues and what this means for both their personal work and the vitality of said political campaign.
Biography: Jackie Frankovich is a seasoned political campaign field organizer for major elections in battleground states. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia; she also completed portions of her degree at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, where she studied politics and history. In terms of campaigns, she has worked as a field organizer for congressional and gubernatorial elections in Florida, though she has assisted in various capacities with numerous other political organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party.
April 19: Kim Dugan & Rebecca Harvey; “Cultivating Resilience, Leadership and Other Strengths: Queerness, Intersectionality and the Reconstruction of Gender”
Synopsis: Through a pedagogical exercise, presenters explore some unique gifts of queerness including flexibility, gender fluidity, borderland connections, sensitivity to power and oppression, differentiation (i.e. bravery to hold self knowledge in the face of community pressure). We explore how these gifts or queer sensibilities can create social and cultural competencies and expertise, ingenuity and navigation skills. All this, we argue creates, cultivates and supports the interpersonal skills that can create better leaders and stronger intimate partnerships.
Biography: Dr. Rebecca Harvey is an Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Southern Connecticut State University. She specializes in sexuality issues publishes and presents widely on affirmative clinical work with LGBTQIA people and their families. In 2005 she co-authored the book:“ Nurturing Queer Youth: Family Therapy Transformed.” She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a PhD in Family Therapy from Syracuse University.
Dr. Kim Dugan is Professor of Sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University. Her teaching and research focus on social movements and LGBTQ lives. She has written about the LGBTQ movement and the Christian Right. She authored The Struggle Over Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Rights (Routledge, 2005) and numerous articles. She helped develop Eastern’s Pride Room (now, Pride Center) and serves as advisor for the Pride Alliance group on campus.
April 26: Gabby Rivera; “My Grandparent’s Honeymoon and other Stories for Queer Babes”
Gabby Rivera is the visiting author of “Juliet Takes a Breath,” the featured novel for the Rainbow Center Book Club this year. This event is co-sponsored by the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center.
Synopsis: Using her novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, as a guide, Rivera will explore issues of self-discovery, the importance of investigating family histories, and all the ways she’s learned to navigate being queer and Latinx. But all lecture and no play isn’t very fun so be prepared for a reading from her book, some time to write down thoughts and feels, while also creating a small blueprint to examine aspects of your life. You might even come out of this lecture with the beginnings of your own wild weirdo novel, and that’d be pretty sweet, right? So come join the nerdburger party, and let’s do this.
Biography: Gabby Rivera is a queer Latinx writer from the Bronx. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for Women’s History Month, and it was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina Magazine. Put simply by Roxane Gay, it’s “F***ing outstanding.” Gabby Rivera (she/her/hers) is also the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN, a non-profit organization focused on LGBTQ education support. She has also worked with Autostraddle dot com, the Sadie Nash Leadership Institute, the Brooklyn Museum and other such groups to develop workshops, conversations, and content that speaks to her experience as a queer person of color, with specific focuses on youth and fiction writing.
Fall 2016 roster
September 7: Kristin Van Ness; “Creating Visi-bi-lity: Voices of non-monosexual students”
Synopsis: Where there was once simply “gay” or “straight”, there is now a full alphabet soup of identity labels within the LGBTQ community. Although researchers have started to understand more about non-monosexual individuals (not simply gay or straight) less is understood about the social supports given to particular labels such as queer, pansexual, bisexual, etc. How does the language we choose to describe experiences impact our relationships with others? What are some of the contextual factors to choosing one identity label instead of another? We will discuss the findings of a brief pilot study of non-monosexual college students, as well as the various factors impacting connection and communication in relationships.
Biography: Kristin Van Ness is currently an Academic Advisor and Adjunct Instructor in the HDFS department. She got her start as a student worker in the UConn Rainbow Center. After graduation, she was hired to develop and facilitate the Safe Zone program and represent the LGBT Center at Central Connecticut State University. Her work with undergraduate students inspired her to complete her graduate degree at UConn in Human Development and Family Studies department where she focused on family dynamics – specifically queer identities and family communication. On the weekend you can find her hiking and spending time with her wife and their fur kids.
September 14: Kristin Comeforo; “Gender (Dis)play: Butch Women, Selfies, and the representation of Masculinity/Femininity”
Synopsis: In 2013, “selfie” and “cisgender” were added to the Oxford Dictionary. Whether accidental or by design, just as our thinking about gender identity was expanding, so was our desire & ability to share our identity widely with others. Both mainstream media and “selfies” have been found to emphasize a “hyper” gender representation based largely on stereotypes (See: van Zoonen, 1994; Jhally, 1990; Goffman, 1976; Doring, Reif, & Poeschl, 2016; Macheroni, Vincent & Jimenez, 2015; Tortajada, Araüna & Martínez, 2013). Still, how do those gender non-conforming use selfies to represent their gendered selves? Today we will look at findings from a qualitative textual analysis of 250 butch selfies shared through #WhatButchLooksLike and begin to deconstruct traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, redefining and (re)creating new ones based on our lived experiences.
Biography: Kristin Comeforo (PhD, Rutgers University) is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Hartford, teaching specifically in the area of Advertising. Believing fully in non-conformity she fights against capitalism, the patriarchy, and other modes of racial, gender and sexuality injustices. Her research interests are largely critical – queer, feminist critiques of gender and LGBTQ+ representation in advertising and other mainstream media products. Life goals include writing a feminist primer for teen girls (with an accompanying “zine” workbook!) and doing carpool karaoke with Missy Elliot and Michelle Obama.
September 21: Lori Davison; “Families in Transition: Navigating and Changing the World with a Transgender Child”
Synopsis: Transgender and gender non-conforming youth are socially transitioning in record numbers. We’ll explore the reasons behind this trend, and its impact on families, schools, language, and society. When a child’s expression of gender goes against the gender binary norm, many families find themselves transitioning as well. Most will grapple with long-held internalized beliefs about gender as they negotiate gender expression with their child. Ultimately, many families become agents of change–impacting society as they navigate the world with a transgender family member.
Biography: Lori Davison, M.A., is President of the Hartford Chapter of PFLAG –the nation’s largest organization for family and allies of LGBTQ people. A former World Language teacher for over 15 years, and a former high school GSA advisor, she now educates parents, teenagers, educators, and community members on gender issues. An engaging and humorous presenter, Lori has brought her expertise to workshops at True Colors, Gender Conference East, First Event-Philadelphia Transgender Health and Law, Transgender Lives, PFLAG National and Southern Comfort conference.
September 28: Michael Reynolds; “Understanding Suicidality in the LGBTQIA+ Community: Awareness and Action”
Synopsis: This presentation will look deeper at the current facts, risk and protective factors regarding LGBTQIA+ suicide and suicidality, with specific emphasis on the roles of family/community acceptance and religious acceptance. Realistic stories of people whose lives have been affected by the intersection of religion/society and suicidality will be interwoven. In addition, it will provide practical and realistic framework for those participating in this lecture audience to reflect and move forward in becoming part of the solution. It will provide an overview of some of the main organizations currently working to address the problem of LGBTQIA+ suicidality, and realistic action steps to help in this regard. There will be opportunities for individual, small and whole group interaction/dialogue, as well as participation in self-reflective activity.
Biography: Michael Reynolds has walked in many sets of shoes over my life to this point, engaging in various personal and professional roles and experiences that each define an important aspect of who I am and the gifts that I bring. From elementary school teacher, to assistant Catholic Campus minister at a college, to Family Support worker at a center for families who recently emigrated to the US from Spanish-Speaking countries, to school social worker at the elementary and high school levels, to leader and advocate for LGBT inclusion and full-membership in Catholic and other faith communities, to work with those experiencing homelessness, to organizing and advocacy for justice and equity for many who experience marginalization in the larger society, he constantly strives to be a voice and example of the lived vision of realizing that we all have a “place at the table” of a full, safe and gifted life.
October 5: Graciela Quiñones-Rodríguez; “‘Inter-section[ality]’ – Dissecting for Understanding?”
Synopsis: This seminar is intended to take a look at and discuss some perspectives regarding “intersectionality” as a framework approach to understanding complex and intertwined experiences of social differences [and similarities?]. The main goal is to foster critical thinking and discussion about its applications, use and usefulness.
Biography: Graciela Quiñones-Rodríguez, LCSW, is a UConn graduate from the School of Social Work. She attended the University of Puerto Rico for undergraduate studies in social work. She has lived in Connecticut for the past 30 years and worked in numerous social work settings in clinical practice. She worked for DCF in community and residential settings. She worked as an independent consultant facilitating diversity workshops for DCF and the Juvenile Justice System. She was a mental health consultant for program development at the Institute for Community Research. She has facilitated crisis intervention trainings for several Sexual Assault Crisis programs throughout Connecticut. She has performed as senior psychotherapist in hospital and community outpatient settings in Meriden, Middletown and Hartford. She has presented at the Child Welfare League of America and performs as adjunct faculty at Capitol Community College and UConn’s School of Social Work. Most of her direct practice has been with minority and underserved populations in individual, family and group interventions, ranging from children to the elderly. She has worked with individuals afflicted by chronic mental illness, HIV/AIDS and a multiplicity of interpersonal and adaptation issues. She has also performed in the capacity of program coordinator, supervisor and field advisor for graduate level social work students. She is currently employed as a psychiatric social worker with UConn at the Storrs campus in Counseling & Mental Health.
October 12: Shana Clarke; “The State of the Union: Rainbow Edition”
Synopsis: Stonewall. Harvey Milk. Gay Marriage. Religious Freedom bills. The fight for equal protection under the law has seen many victories…and several temporary defeats. How is life for LGBTQIA people in America today? What is the human impact of key laws aimed at reducing equal protection? How do we overcome these laws? How can you support your LGBTQIA comrades? These things and more will be explored in this session of Out to Lunch.
Biography: Shana Clarke is an educator, a student advocate and a leader. Her work in higher education has spanned admission, academic and career counseling, working with at risk populations, and various diversity initiatives. Shana received her masters of arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs at UConn, and while here, pursued a practicum and partnership with the Rainbow Center. Through that partnership, Shana has worked with My Pride, My Soul and the Safe Zone program. She comes to us with a healthy curiosity and interest in the law and how it affects LGBTQIA individuals.
October 19: Daniel Trust; “The Coming Out Story of a Genocide Survivor”
Synopsis: This lecture will present the personal coming out story of a Rwandan genocide survivor and how he managed to stand strong despite the rejection and hatred he received from his family when he first announced he was gay. According to a 2014 report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First, 37 African nations criminalize same-sex relationships and 4 African nations allow for the death penalty against LGBT people. As an African, who immigrated to the United States as a refugee, Daniel will take participants that attend this lecture on an inspiring journey that details the struggles he experienced growing up as an orphan / gay male on a continent where millions of LGBT people face harassment, discrimination, prosecution, and violence on a daily basis.
Biography: Daniel Trust is a nationally recognized youth motivational speaker and founder of the Daniel Trust Foundation, a Connecticut based non-profit organization that helps students from low-income communities with their educational and career needs, and honors educators, who go above and beyond to help these students succeed in school and in their personal lives. Daniel’s story and philanthropic efforts have been featured in both local and national publications including the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register and Connecticut Post. He’s also appeared on daytime talk shows like Better Connecticut, Connecticut Style and Our Lives. In 2014, Connecticut Magazine listed him to its 40 Under 40 List. Daniel is a father of two adopted sons and lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
October 26: Courtney Jacob D’Allaird; “Racism, Sexism, Classism and Heterosexuality: Have we ever really talked about it?”
Synopsis: What is heterosexuality in the US? Where does it come from? How has it shaped our culture, our physical environment, our institutions and what does it mean to challenge these things? Together we will explore how sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism are inextricably linked and inform our social and physical world. This interactive discussion will disentangle our notions of the professional, the attractive, the male & female and the space left for anything else.
Biography: Courtney Jacob D’Allaird M.B.A., is the Assistant Director of Intercultural Student Engagement and Coordinator for the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center at the University at Albany, State University of New York. They have been involved in the education and implementation for LGBTQ+ inclusion at UAlbany since 2008. Their background in sociology, psychology, business administration, women’s gender & Sexuality studies, intersectionality, diversity education and peer education around LGBTQ+ identity and inclusion give them a unique framework through which to understand engage others around identity and oppression.
November 2: Fleurette King; “Fearless & Competitive: How LGBTQI+ Athletes Protest Inside the Locker Rooms, Playing Fields & Winner Circles”
Synopsis: Intersex, transgender, bisexual and lesbian sport-oriented (athletes, coaches, and administrators) people have protested within the institution of sport. This presentation will unveil the following strategies in which resistance and protest were facilitated: created a “lesbigay” sport movement; combated the two-sex system that is persistent in sport; utilized the “coming out” process to widen the playing field; and made a democracy reflect its principles in the untouchable institution of sports. This has allowed for a wide range of actions and words that demonstrate a refusal to conform to accustomed institutional roles. Resistance reflects the demand to participate which produces both willing and unwilling forms of protest. Many are no longer willing to be reluctant sport attendees and sheepish benchwarmers. They are here to play and coach with a fearless and competitive heart.
Biography: Fleurette King has served as the Director of the UConn Rainbow Center since 2007. King’s involvement in social justice education and valuing diversity efforts, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, expands over a 23-year career in higher education. Prior to UConn, King served in diversity-related positions at Loras College, DePaul College, Princeton University, and the University of Michigan. King’s participation in regional and national networks reflects a deep passion and commitment to social justice. King obtained a B.A. in Sociology with a Minor in Ethnic Studies from Bowling Green State University and a M.A. in Sociology from DePaul University. King enjoys short walks on the beach and playing racquetball. King medaled in racquetball at Gay Games 2006.
November 9: Irwin Krieger; “Ending The Standoff: Helping Parents Overcome Their Fears”
Synopsis: Has conversation with your parents broken down since you told them you are transgender? When young adults come out, many parents are disbelieving, confused or afraid. Young people who are unhappy with their parents’ response may avoid further discussion. Families often end up having little productive communication, with all parties feeling misunderstood, unappreciated and unsupported. In this workshop I will offer strategies to address parental responses that lead to a family impasse. Participants who would like to share some of their own experiences and strategize about ending a standoff with their parents will be welcome to do so. Helping families reconnect is essential for the emotional well-being of transgender teens and young adults. You are welcome to attend, whether or not you have experienced this challenge in your own life.
Biography: Irwin Krieger, LCSW is a clinical social worker who has worked extensively with transgender teens and adults and their families. He is a graduate of Yale with an MSW from the University of Connecticut. Irwin was a 2013 recipient of the New Haven Pride Center’s Dorothy Award, for his service to the LGBT community in New Haven. Irwin provides training for mental health and health care professionals, as well as school personnel. He has presented at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Symposium in Atlanta, the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, the Maine Academy of Family Physicians, Children’s Hospital in Boston, Yale University, Quinnipiac University and the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Helping Your Transgender Teen: A Guide for Parents.
November 16: Seth Wallace; “Emotional Intelligence for Queer Individuals”
Synopsis: What is emotional intelligence, and why is it so important for queer people? This interactive discussion will offer reflections, tips for self-regulation, and essential knowledge for prioritizing the wellbeing of our community in the face of oppression and stigma.
Biography: Seth Wallace is an educator, consultant, and activist. He is currently completing his MSW, and provides training for mental and medical health providers on topics of gender identity. Seth works out of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Facebook, and the Yale LGBTQ Resource Center, where his work on the intersections of emotional intelligence and diversity education reaches students, teachers, and professionals nationwide.
November 23: No lecture due to Thanksgiving Break
November 30: Alice Fairfield; “Being Trans”
Synopsis: What does it mean to be transgender? Just what is transgender anyway? Alice Fairfield has had to confront these questions over the course of her life. She’ll share some of the answers she’s found, and some of the questions that those answers have prompted. As it turns out, it’s complicated!
Biography: Alice Fairfield is a Serials Librarian and the Librarian for Gender and Sexual Minorities Studies at UConn. When she’s not busy dealing with the never-ending stream serials and journal related problems, she supports the research needs of anyone doing research in the interdisciplinary field of Gender and Sexual Minorities Studies. She’s also a member of the University Senate Diversity Committee.
She has a Bachelor’s in Astronomy from UMass, and a Master’s of Library Studies from Texas Woman’s University. She’s worked at UConn since January 2000. Her hobbies include the martial art aikido (she’s an ikkyuu; 1st degree student rank), roleplaying games, computer games, anime, science fiction, and is otherwise a fairly full-spectrum geek. And she’s a transgender woman and lesbian.
December 7: Erin Buzuvis; “Equality, Sports and Law: How Title IX Protects the Civil Rights of LGBT Athletes and Coaches”
Synopsis: Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Even though it does not mention sexual orientation and gender identity, the law has nevertheless been interpreted by courts and government agencies to similarly prohibit discrimination on those grounds. This presentation will explain how the law has and could potentially be applied to secure the rights of LGBT athletes and coaches. It will also examine how politics of religious freedom and states’ rights are presently operating as obstacles to Title IX’s full promise for LGBT equality.
Biography: Erin Buzuvis is a Professor of Law at Western New England University in Springfield MA. She researches, writes, and teaches about sex, gender, and sexual-orientation discrimination in education, athletics, and other contexts. She is a co-founder and contributor to the Title IX Blog, and the author of several academic chapters and articles about Title IX as well as gender and sexual orientation discrimination more broadly, particularly in sport.