Out To Lunch (OTL) Lecture Series

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; “Queer Spirituality in a Post-Christian Context”

Synopsis: While many queer people have been stigmatized by institutional religions, their leaders, and their members, queer people also frequently seek ways of integrating a spiritual dimension into their embodied experiences and relationships. This class will explore the queer dimensions of Christian traditions, explain the theological underpinnings of Christianity’s tensions concerning sexuality, and examine some of the options appropriated by queer people today.

Biography: Dr. Thomas Lawrence Long is associate professor in residence in the UConn School of Nursing and serves on the core faculty of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. A former Roman Catholic priest, he earned a master’s degree in theology from the Catholic University of America in 1981. A professor of English language and American studies, he is the author of AIDS and American Apocalypticism: The Cultural Semiotics of an Epidemic. He has contributed book chapters to The Male Body in Medicine and Literature (Liverpool University Press, forthcoming), Women’s Narratives of the Early Americas and the Formation of Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Routledge Handbook on the Global History of Nursing (Routledge, 2013), On the Meaning of Friendship between Gay Men (Routledge, 2008), Catholic Figures, Queer Narratives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), and Gender and Apocalyptic Desire (Equinox, 2005).

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; “LGBTQ Centers at Colleges and Universities”

Synopsis: LGBTQ centers at institutions of higher education in the U.S. were born out of protests following the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 (Self & Hudson, 2015). Mirroring the radical shift of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement from one of assimilation to one of liberation (D’Emilio, 1998), LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities demanded space, support, protection, and validation from their institutions (Beemyn, 2002; University of Michigan, n.d.; Sanlo, et al., 2002). In this Out to Lunch Series session, Brian Edwards — the new director of the Rainbow Center at UConn — will present a brief history of the LGBTQ movement and discuss how it connects to higher education, cover the establishment of the first LGBTQ center at a college campus in the U.S., and shed insight on current campus climate trends. A brief history of the Rainbow Center at UConn will also be discussed.

Biography:  Brian Edwards (pronouns: he/him/his or they/them/theirs) is the new Director of the Rainbow Center. Brian has over 13 years of experience in higher education and has held various positions in both student and academic affairs. Most recently, he served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Center at Montclair State University, in addition to teaching LGBTQ Studies courses in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies department. At Montclair, Brian was responsible for the advocacy and direction of University-wide services and programs for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.

Brian holds a B.F.A. from Marymount Manhattan College and an M.S.Ed. from Baruch College, CUNY. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in education with a concentration in higher education administration at New England College. His current research explores the experiences of college students and campus administrators engaged in LGBTQ social justice education activism. Please join us in welcoming Brian to the UConn community.

September 27: Laura Saunders; “LGBTQ Identity Development: Trends, Issues and Treatment Considerations”

Synopsis: This presentation will review LGBTQ identity development as it relates to developmental stages, risk factors and treatment interventions. Use of current research highlights trends in our understanding of LGBTQ identity. Relevant risk factors that are particular to the LGBTQ population also help inform our treatment. Open discussion allows participants to integrate their experiences.

Biography: Laura M. I. Saunders, Psy.D. 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 is the Clinical Coordinator of The Right Track/LGBTQ Intensive Outpatient program in Young Adult Services for individuals struggling with co-occurring emotional difficulties, minority stress and identity development. This LGBTQ Specialty behavioral health program is the first of its kind in CT. In 2015, Dr. Saunders was named as the co-Employee of the Year for Hartford Hospital. Areas of expertise include child psychopathology, behavior management, parent training and family therapy. She appears regularly in local TV news to provide psychological input on topics relevant to youth and families.

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:  Timothy Bussey; “From Trans Inclusion to Exclusion: Understanding the Scope and Impact of the Military’s New Transgender Ban” (new date)

Synopsis: During this lecture, attendees will learn about the current state of transgender inclusion and support in the Armed Forces. This presentation will trace the key strides that the Obama administration made in regards to transgender inclusion in the military. Attendees will also learn about Obama-era Dept. of Defense policies relating to inclusion and transition-related support for active duty service members. Additionally, this lecture will also highlight the latest developments since President Trump’s recent guidance to disallow transgender persons from serving in the military; an exploration of what impact this might have on the trans community and the Armed Forces will also be provided.

Biography: Timothy R. Bussey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Dept. of Political Science and a graduate teaching assistant in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UConn. He earned his M.A. in political science with a concentration in American studies at UConn in 2014, and he is currently completing his doctoral dissertation, ‘Lavender Security Threats: Understanding the Histories of Discrimination against LGBT Persons in the Military and Intelligence Communities.’ He has also served as the lecturer for the UConn Rainbow Center since November 2016 as well.

November 1: Hailey Greenhalgh; “Defining Polyamory”

Synopsis: This lecture will seek to introduce some general information about polyamory and similar identities such as ethical non-monogamy and anarchic relationships. There will also be an overview of terms, disproving some myths surrounding polyamory, and how polyamorus relationships “work.”

Biography: Hailey B. Greenhalgh is a Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Political Science and a graduate teaching assistant in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UConn. Their research focuses around human rights for transgender individuals in an international sense. They present a series of workshops at LGBTQ+ conferences focusing on human rights, polyamory, and long distance relationships.

November 8:  Sherry Zane; “Same-Sex Acts and the Origins of a National Security State in the Early Twentieth Century”  (new date)

Synopsis: This lecture will explore how categories of gender, sexual identity, and race shaped U.S. national security interests on the World War I homefront from 1917-1921 in Newport, Rhode Island. United States government officials, including Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, attempted to restrict same-sex acts when he and others authorized enlisted men and officers to entrap, arrest, and otherwise penalize male-identified sailors and civilians for having sex with other men. Military officials believed that this behavior inhibited the United States’ ability to win the war and, therefore, threatened national security. The court martial hearings reveal how early twentieth-century gender and queer identities shaped the origins of a national security state that would have a lasting impact on military policies and body politics long after the war ended.

Biography: Dr. Sherry Zane is the Associate Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UCONN. Her current work focuses on how intersectional constructs of gender, sexuality, and race shape national security concerns well before the National Security Act of 1947. Sherry is also concerned with educating university staff, administrators, and instructors on the importance of inclusivity for transgender and gender non-binary students, and she has recently published a webinar with Magna Publications titled, “Simple Strategies to Create an Inclusive Classroom for Gender Variant Students” this past spring. Sherry received her Ph.D. in U.S. History in 2012.


November 15: Timothy Bussey; “Lavender Politics: An Analysis of LGBTQ Voting Behavior and Electoral Outcomes”

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the original speaker for this date, Professor Misty Ginicola, will not be able to present the planned lecture presentation entitled, “History & Current Issues Surrounding Two-Spirit Identities.” We are hopeful to reschedule this specific presentation during the Spring 2018 semester.  We have been able to devise a replacement speaker and presentation on a different topic.

Synopsis: This lecture will provide attendees with knowledge about LGBTQ political behaviors, particularly in relation to party affiliation and voter turnout. Additionally, an analysis of LGBTQ vote choice in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections will also be incorporated into the presentation. In reference to the 2016 election, there will be an exploration of exit poll data pertaining to LGBTQ supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump. Finally, the lecture will conclude by contextualizing the importance of the November 2017 elections and the historic victories of transgender candidates, Andrea Jenkins and Danica Roem among others.

Biography: Timothy R. Bussey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Dept. of Political Science and a graduate teaching assistant in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UConn. He earned his M.A. in political science with a concentration in American studies at UConn in 2014, and he is currently completing his doctoral dissertation, ‘Lavender Security Threats: Understanding the Histories of Discrimination against LGBT Persons in the Military and Intelligence Communities.’ He has also served as the lecturer for the UConn Rainbow Center since November 2016 as well.

November 22: No lecture due to Thanksgiving Break

November 29: Debanuj DasGupta; “The National Security State & The Precarious Transgender Asylum Seeker”

Synopsis: The question of transgender rights is presently a hotly contested issue in the United States. President Donald Trump has proposed to ban transgender persons from serving in the US military along with rescinding previous Presidential orders about transgender access to toilets in public institutions. However, what remains hidden from these debates is the torture faced by transgender refugees and asylum seekers within detention centers. In this paper, I will argue that torture upon the trans/migrant body is hidden from the view of the American public, and detention centers operate as the secret spaces of the national security state. I will analyze transgender migrant activism related to the abolition of the detention industrial complex and highlight how transgender immigrants are at the forefront of ushering social justice movements that take up questions of human rights of LGBT people and migrants.

Biography: Debanuj DasGupta is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at the University of Connecticut. His research interests are in the fields of international migration, HIV/AIDS prevention, sexual rights and global governance. He is particularly interested in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention within men who have sex with men and transgender communities in the global south; the geopolitics of HIV/AIDS related mobilities regulation; the political economy of PrEP and access to PrEP in the global south. He is currently working on two projects: 1) Comparative spatial study of transgender rights politics in India and the USA; 2) The securitization of HIV/AIDS in the USA.

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.