October is GLBT History Month

In the 1990's, teachers and community organizations determined that a month should be designated for GLBT history. They chose October because public schools are in session and traditions, such as National Coming Out Day, occur then.

Here at Vassar, we will be celebrating GLBT History Month through programs, awareness campaigns, and blogposts. Thanks to the Equality Forum our blog will feature a daily video of an important GLBT icon for each of the 31 days in October. Just log on daily beginning tomorrow, October 1, to see the new videos featured above all our blogposts.

I will be updating our blog frequently throughout October with details of our own events and celebrations, but here is a quick overview of our schedule for the month. (Feel free to send me information about your own LGBTQ-related events throughout the month as well!)

Friday, October 3 - FagBug

1-5pm on Main Drive - Visit Erin Davies and her newly repainted rainbow VW Beetle
7-9pm in CC MPR - Come hear Erin's story about how an incident of vandalism turned her into an activist as she drove cross-country with her "FagBug" and recorded people's reactions to the car.

Sunday, October 5 - Bill Konigsberg Meet & Greet
4-5pm in the LGBTQ Center
Informal meet and greet with openly gay sports writer, and author of the new novel Out of the Pocket - about a high school football player who is gay.

Monday, October 6 - ACT OUT Fundraiser
10am-3pm in the Retreat
ACT OUT will be holding a fundraiser to support marriage equality in California. Stop by during their tabling times to donate, make buttons, eat gayke, and learn about Proposition 8.

Thursday, October 9 & Friday, October 10
Coming Out Day T-Shirts!

(sponsored by the LGBTQ Center, QCVC, and ACT OUT!)
Stop by our table in the College Center Atrium between 11am-3pm on these days to get your FREE Coming Out Day T-Shirt.

In the spirit of visibility, you will be able to show your pride by writing any identity you are proud of on the front of your shirt.

Wear these shirts in solidarity on Friday, October 10!

Friday, October 10 - Out on the Town
"Meet Me In Poughkeepsie" Event - 11:45-3:45pm
(Sponsored by ACT OUT, QCVC, and Spectrum Leadership Council)
Come out for a day in the park with members of the Hudson Valley's queer community. We'll hang out with students from Marist, Bard, SUNY New Paltz, and the CIA as well as members of the Poughkeepsie community! We'll discuss queer issues, foster some great connections, maybe event play kickball, and spend a fun low-key afternoon getting off the Vassar campus and getting to know each other and the area.

Monday, October 13 - Wednesday, October 15

Ally Week and Intersex Awareness
Stop by our table in the College Center Atrium from 11am-3pm on these days to learn about Ally week, Intersex Issues, and some general LGBTQ information.

Tuesday, October 14 - Free HIV Testing
10:30am-2:30pm in the Baldwin Parking Area
(sponsored by the Health Education Office)

Wednesday, October 29 - Fruit Salad!
12noon - 1pm in the LGBTQ Center
Come to our October Fruit Salad! discussion about gay male culture and the pressures to conform.

A PR Perspective of Public Sexuality Outings

(posted by Guest Blogger Megan Habermann, Assistant Director for Campus Activities -- on left in picture)

In another life I was/am/will be a Public Relations executive. So in some ways I agree and disagree with both Nick and Julie.

I agree with Julie in that coming out publicly is no longer the risk it used to be. If we put every “I’m Gay” cover on this blog, you would see that they all look alike, as if the template sits there for People’s quarterly outing. And I agree with Nick, that Americans are uniquely intrigued by these “outings,” however, in my humble hetero opinion, I think it has a lot more to do with our unnatural obsession with celebrity in general than who is gay and who’s not. Baby covers sell just as well, because we want to be in on the intensely private aspects of our favorite celebrity lives. So from a PR aspect, way to go Clay for getting a two for one cover, I don’t think either on its own would have sold as well.

Lindsay Lohan, for example, is a media darling. Many people can’t name a single movie she’s been in other than Mean Girls, but we all know who she’s dated, maybe dated, done drugs with, and rehabs she’s been too. If it weren’t her relationship with Samantha Ronson, it would be has she relapsed. Sadly, sexual orientation has become one more publicity arena, and staying non-public almost seems more a risk now because of the constant attention and pleas for outings from Advocate or Perez. Just leave Jodie Foster alone, she’s trying to raise a family without you all up in her business. Luckily for her, Lindsay is around to give us something else to talk about.

And for the record, Lindsay hasn’t come out. She admitted that she was in a relationship with Samantha, but without definition. But why do we need her to come out or not? Why in a world where we are constantly trying to redefine the definition of sexuality, and talk about how it’s on a continuum, not an either or, do we need celebrities to “pick a side.” Until everyone stops making sure that celebrities have defined sexualities, we can’t expect people to stop asking their friends to define their own.

So let’s talk about Lindsay, but let’s leave her to be young and experimental without judgment. Other than how she really can’t pull off blond hair. That I will judge.

Gay Celebrity Thoughts...

Ok, so I posted Nick's thoughts about the "new gay celebrity" yesterday, but the more I think about it the more I disagree with many of his claims. My hope with this blog is to invite various viewpoints into discussion, so why not demonstrate that myself.

Yes, Wednesday was a big day - Clay Aiken has added himself to the list of growing celebrities who have "come out" via the cover of mainstream magazines. If anything, I would say this is the true sign of the "new gay celebrity." The idea that celebrities see sexuality (at least, any type of queer sexuality) as being an intensely personal thing is old news. Pre-Ellen, celebrities have been closeted in the public sphere for ages. Ellen is often mentioned as the ground-breaking queer celebrity for many reasons, but when discussing the concept of coming out on the cover of mainstream magazines, we have to mention Ellen! Doesn't everyone remember (or have at least heard of) the infamous April 14, 1997 Time magazine cover? Ellen was the first to come out publicly in this way.

So, that Time magazine cover was over 11 years ago, and unfortunately our society wasn't quite ready for it at the time. After Ellen came out, her show was canceled within a year. She struggled to get work, and didn't make a true comeback in the entertainment business until her current talk show which began in 2003.

In very recent years, gay celebrities have been coming out more publicly, with more positive (or should I say "less negative") consequences. Lance Bass on the cover of People magazine. Neil Patrick Harris in People magazine. T.R. Knight being outed on set, and then acknowledging it publicly. Even Dumbledore! Ok, that might be a fake magazine cover for Dumbedore, but you get the point.

However, what I see as being most ground-breaking right now is the idea that celebrities can live their lives in open same-sex relationships without necessarily making the bold "coming out" statement. Jodie Foster, who has been "rumored" to be gay for years, but never publicly announced it finally thanked her presumed partner as part of an acceptance speech for an award she won. (http://www.afterellen.com/people/2007/12/jodiefoster) This is how I see Lindsay Lohan's situation. Nick was right, Lindsay's "track record" shows avoidance of the topic, even when asked direct questions about her relationship with Samantha Ronson. In fact, her publicist has already made claims that Lindsay's recent "confession" was suposed to be a joke and has been widely misinterpreted. But, don't actions speak louder than words in her case? Bringing Samantha as her date to public events. Making out in public (ok, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but c'mon). All those MySpace posts.

You can make your own decision about Lindsay Lohan's sexuality - or choose not to focus on the issue at all. But I think the fact that America cares more about that, than the current economic crisis (at least they did on Wednesday at noon when Nick took that CNN screen shot) is also very telling about our society today. Why does it matter how these celebrities identify, and whether or not they are "out"? Is it good or bad that they get this much publicity about it? I don't see this issue disappearing in mainstream pop culture anytime soon, so feel free to weigh in with your thoughts about the topic! (leave a comment, or e-mail me a blogpost and I will be happy to publish more views about this.)

America's Obsession with Queer Culture

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Wednesday, September 24, was a momentous day: both Clay Aiken and Lindsay Lohan came out. Lohan did so by casually mentioning the length of her relationship with Samantha Ronson on a radio program, Clay Aiken in People magazine, saying that "he cannot raise a child to lie or hide things." While it is very admirable that both of them could bring themselves to acknowledge their sexuality, at the same time, we must look at their "track records."

Lohan has been dating Ronson for several months, and wouldn't admit to being with her until now. She would intentionally skirt around the subject if it was brought up in interviews. Aiken, on the other hand, has at times out-and-out denied his being gay, yet in a new interview with People magazine says he came out to his mother four years ago.

Thus we see the emergence of the new gay celebrity: the one who sees sexuality as being an intensely personal thing, that it belongs in the private sphere and not in the public realm. This defies stereotype, as many perceive the "typical" gay to be "out and proud."

At the same time, there was a huge flurry of media speculation around Lohan, and whether she was dating Ronson - Perez Hilton even nicknamed her "LesLo." As for both Lohan and Aiken, I can't say it was surprising to me that they're queer, and I doubt it was surprising to much of America. Even so, on Wednesday at about noon, the most popular headline on CNN wasn't the financial crisis or the nuclear re-armament of North Korea, but "Lohan confirms she's dating woman." Clay, not to be forgotten, rounded out the top 10 at number 10. America has become entranced by the gay celebrity, following those who might be gay with fervor unmatched.

Blegen House Library Access

We are finally ready to launch our book borrowing system at the LGBTQ Center! If you would like to explore our library of over 1700(!) books (still stored at the Blegen House), come visit the LGBTQ Center during any of our drop-in hours to search through our computerized database of the books. If you find anything you would like to borrow, tell the Intern in the center, and they will walk you through our borrowing process. Within 48 hours of requesting a book, we will deliver the book to your mailbox. You will be able to borrow the book for up to 3 weeks, and can then return it to the LGBTQ Center during open hours, or give the book to the Post Office to put in Box 555. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Julie at jusilverstein@vassar.edu or ask the intern on-duty during our drop-in hours.

Fruit Salad! TODAY!

Don't forget - we are kicking off our new Fruit Salad! series (discussions to explore the diversity within the queer community) TODAY!

Tuesday, September 23
12noon-1pm @ LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Topic: Bisexuality Special Guest Speaker: Leslie Power

I hope to see you there!


(posted by Loghann, '10)
Hello, everyone!

I'm Loghann and as my profile says below, I'm an intern at the LGBTQ Center this year. I'm a member of the class of 2010 and majoring in religion.

Anyhoo, there's this really awesome program started last year called QTalk that we are hoping to continue, and I thought I'd tell y'all a little about it.

The aim of QTalk is to provide a space to discuss issues and ideas centered around coming out. At first this may seem a bit odd at a place considered as "accepting" as Vassar. Why don't people just come out, already? Nobody cares. In a way, though, this just makes it more difficult for students struggling with the experience because many of their friends and peers cannot empathize with the troubles they are facing. Also, a school like Vassar is host to students from wildly diverse cultural backgrounds. Many students who are comfortable being out and proud on campus are forced right back into the closet when they step out of the car at home. Some people have to monitor their Facebook profiles very carefully, always keeping track of who can see what part, if there are comments left that could give the wrong information to the wrong people. QTalk is here for these students.

Last year QTalk took the form of a discussion group that met several times a semester, each time with a different discussion topic. While we are still interested in having these discussion groups, it's been decided to get things started here on the blog. Feel free to leave comments, anonymous or otherwise!

So, are you comfortable being out at Vassar? Do you feel that other students/staff/faculty are sensitive to the problems faced by closeted students? Are you out any more or less at home versus at Vassar (if we can quantify such things)? Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

Discussion: Transgender Activism and LGBT Health

Please join Alex Thompson, a local transgender activist, for an informal discussion about trangender politics and the heath care needs of the LGBT community. We will be meeting in the LGBTQ center (CC 235) from 1:30-2:30 on Tuesday, September 23. Tea and snacks provided. Sponsored by the Women's Studies Program.

Alex Thompson was raised in rural Arkansas and attended Hendrix College, receiving degrees in history and gender studies. He also holds a masters degree in higher education administration, and worked in residence life for six years. Alex became an activist in the transgender community upon transitioning from female to male at age 25. Recently Alex changed careers and is now a Registered Nurse at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany. He is enrolled in Sage Graduate School to become a Nurse Practitioner, and plans to serve the health care needs of the LGBT community. Alex lives in Germantown with his partner.

Intern Blogger

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Hey all,
Welcome to the Campus Life LGBTQ Center's official blog! My name is Nick; I'm an LGBTQ Center intern for the '08-'09 school year. I'm currently in charge of creating publicity materials for the center, which encompasses any flyers you see for the center around campus and the Blegen House Facebook group. In addition, this semester I'll be the blogging intern for the center. Over the course of the semester, I'll be providing you with insights into queer life at Vassar and beyond.

A little bit about me:
I'm a member of the class of 2011, and I'm undeclared right now, but I'll most likely be majoring in English. This is my second year interning for the LGBTQ center, and I absolutely LOVE the new LGBTQ Center - located at CC 235, it's a really cozy space AND it's in a central location, easily accessible to the campus. I'm the oldest of five kids - I have one brother and three sisters, ranging in age from 15 to 5. I love Vassar and the surrounding community, especially Adam's Faircare Farms. My favorite color is red, my favorite Disney movie is Aladdin, my favorite singer is Britney Spears, but my favorite band is Fall Out Boy. Yeah... If you wanna know any more about me, leave a comment! I'll try to answer it as best I can!

I'm very excited about everything coming up at the LGBTQ center this year, including our first major event of the year: Fruit Salad! Bi Alive! BE THERE. BE THERE. BE THERE.
(Tuesday, September 23, 12-1pm in the LGBTQ Center -- Free Pizza!)

We made the Misc!

If you have not picked up a hard copy of the new Miscellany News yet, check out the article about us in the online edition here.

Great article - I appreciate the positive tone and publicity for the new center and this blog!

Fruit Salad!

Fruit Salad! is a brand new series about the diversity within the queer community. We will be kicking off the first program in celebration of Bisexuality Awareness Day. Here are the details:

Tuesday, September 23
12-1pm in the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)

Leslie Power from Vassar College Human Resources will discuss her experiences as an open bisexual, and the invisibility of bisexuality in our society.

We hope to see you there!

Meet the LGBTQ Center Staff:

LGBTQ Center Interns: Spring 2009

Name: Loghann Rimel
Year: 2010
Major: Religion
Interests: music, acoustic guitar, fuzzy things, virology, Biblical texts
Fun Fact: I have a habit of finding the exact middle of words and phrases as quickly as I can.
Drop In Hours: Mon: 2-4pm and Wed: 2-4pm

Name: Nick Dressler
Year: 2011
Major: Undeclared
Interests: Right now I'm pretty much addicted to The Office - great show.... I also enjoy Grey's Anatomy and Project Runway. I use TV as my escape from the trials of sophomore year.
Fun Fact: I own a signed copy of J.K. Rowling's Quidditch Through the Ages.
Drop In Hours: Fri: 12-4pm

Audrey Atkinson
Year: 2011
Major: (probably) Anthropology with a correlate in Women's Studies
Interests: Feminism, lolcats, and sonic the hedgehog.
Fun Fact: Sometimes I tell lies about my hometown (Holton, KS) to see whether people believe me or not. They invariably do. But it is not a lie that we had a Drive Your Tractor to School day at my high school
Drop In Hours: Mon: 6-8pm, Fri: 4-6pm

Name: Tristan Feldman
Year: 2012
Major: I'm technically "undeclared" but am interested in Environmental Studies
Interests: Vegetarian Food (cooking and eating it), my cat, the Shedd Aquarium
Fun Fact: I have gotten to pet a penguin before...
Drop In Hours: Wed: 10am-2pm

LGBTQ Center Assistant:

Name: Dominic Schuler
Year: 2011
Major: Neuroscience
Interests: Sleeping! And in my "spare" time, being everywhere at once.
Fun Fact: If you see me around, I'm actually not quite as unfriendly as I seem at first. I'm just perpetually socially awkward.

Assistant Director for Campus Life/LGBTQ Programs:

Name: Julie Silverstein (on right in pic)
Interests: Queer Pop Culture, 90's music, bad tv shows
Fun Fact: I used to drive a car that was painted like a cow
Drop In Hours: By appointment or whenever I am in the office. E-mail me (jusilverstein@vassar.edu) to schedule an appointment if you'd like to chat, or just see the LGBTQ Center!

Share Your Coming Out Story!

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center is hosting a Coming Out Story Filming event on Saturday, September 20. Joy Reed from Oh My! Productions will be filming people sharing their coming out stories throughout the day to compile into a documentary. If you are interested in participating, please contact Lance Ringel (laringel@vassar.edu) about scheduling a time for your filming, and let him know if you need transportation to the Center!

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center is located at 300 Wall Street in Kingston, NY. Check out their website here!

Drop-In Hours for Fall 2008!

The LGBTQ Intern staff has finalized our drop-in hours for the Fall 2008 semester. During these hours, the LGBTQ Center will be open and we encourage visitors! Please feel free to come explore our resources, chat with the interns, use our computers, read a book/magazine, watch a movie, and much more! Food is allowed in the center with a "bring your own & clean up afterwards" policy. (However, alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited)

Here are the drop-in hours: (beginning TODAY!)
Sunday: 2-4:30pm
Tuesday: 11am-12noon, 3-4pm, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday: 7-9pm
Thursday: 12noon - 6pm, 7-9pm
Friday: 1-3pm, 4-6pm

These are the hours we will always be open, but there will be other random open times as well. Feel free to stop by if you are in the area incase we are open, or e-mail me at jusilverstein@vassar.edu to schedule an appointment.

We can't wait to see you there!