Hope at the Oscars

(Posted by Nick, '11)
“I think that it is a good time for those for voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”
-Sean Penn, Winner of the Academy Award for Actor in a Leading Role
Watch the speech here:

“And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am, and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.”
-Dustin Lance Black, Winner of the Academy Award for Original Screenplay
Watch the speech here:

This year’s Oscars were permeated by a sense of hope. It seemed like the message that President Obama promoted throughout his campaign directly affected the ceremony this year. Not only did Slumdog Millionaire, a film about hope, win Best Picture, but the winners for Actor in a Leading Role and Original Screenplay directly addressed the passing of Prop 8, and the hope that one day gay marriage will be legal everywhere. Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speeches urged California to reconsider its decision, and America to respect the rights of gay people and legalize gay marriage. Of course, the Kodak Theatre erupted into applause, as Hollywood is filled with social liberals. 36.3 million people watched the Academy Awards this year, which amounts to about 10% of the country. It is these people whom the message had to get through to—telling the people sitting in the theatre these things was like preaching to the choir. Interestingly enough, in a survey released in the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly, 46% of viewers thought Mickey Rourke should have won Best Actor, while only 37% thought Sean Penn should have. I wonder why. I hope it doesn’t have to do with the fact that Penn played Harvey Milk. I hope it has to do with the intensity of their performance.

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Margaret Cho

(Posted by Audrey, '11)
Margaret Cho is a self-identified queer comedian, actress, designer, author, and recording artist. She was born December 5, 1968 into a Korean family living in San Francisco, California. She attended high school at the San Francisco School of the Arts, where she was involved in the school’s sketch comedy group. She began her career in stand-up comedy and, after winning the American Comedy Award in 1994, received her own sitcom on ABC called All American Girl—a television show which is often credited as being the first in the US to prominently feature an East Asian family. Despite having her show cancelled after only one season, Cho has gone on to make a name for herself through her overtly outspoken political views and diverse range of projects. Her comedy is often explicit in nature while giving commentary on social and political issues, including eating disorders, substance abuse, her obsession with gay men, her own bisexuality, and Asian-American stereotypes.

The Life of Bayard Rustin

The Life of Bayard Rustin
Black, Queer, Civil Rights Activist
Film Screening, followed by discussion with Faculty

Friday, February 27
12:00 - 2:30pm @ Villard Room

free pizza lunch - with vegan options!

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi's protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.

Despite all these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era.

Sponsored by the Campus Life ALANA and LGBTQ Resource Centers.

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Frida Kahlo

(Posted by Audrey, '11)
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, known widely for her vibrant use of color (which was heavily influenced by the art of indigenous Mexican culture), her haunting self-portraits, and her tumultuous marriage to fellow Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Both Kahlo and Rivera had numerous extramarital affairs. Frida—who was openly bisexual—had lovers both male and female; Rivera tolerated her female companions but was intensely jealous of the men. As well as being active in the revolutionary movement in Mexico, both Kahlo and Rivera were communists and supporters of Leon Trotsky. After Trotsky was forced from the Soviet Union by Stalin, Rivera assisted him in moving to Mexico—initially into his own home, where Trotsky and Kahlo had an affair.

Kahlo was born July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico—though she later claimed to have been born in 1910, so as to attach herself to the Mexican Revolution beginning that year. She began to focus primarily on her painting after a bus accident in which she suffered serious injuries, including a broken collarbone, a broken spinal column, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and various injuries to her right leg. Additionally, a handrail pierced her abdomen and uterus, damaging her reproductive capability. While recovering in a full body cast, she painted in her bed using a special easel which she could paint on from her bed. Drawing from her personal pain (over her marriage, sexuality, miscarriages, and bodily injuries) to paint, her work was often highly symbolic and imbued with her acute suffering.

Call for Submissions!

The Closet Door
(a new publication from the LGBTQ Center)
A collection of personal stories by queer, questioning, and allied members of the Vassar community about life on all sides of the closet door.

Submit stories to jusilverstein@vassar.edu, or place in Box 555. Please specify if you'd like your story to be published anonymously. Any type of submission accepted - creativity encouraged!

Submissions are due by April 17, 2009.
Publication will be released in October, 2009.

Out on Campus: Vassar Student on Shewired.com

Shewired.com is a queer focused website/blog about LGBT-related news, entertainment, and more. They have a blog series called "Out on Campus" that is meant to bring readers a varied perspective on coming out, and being out at college. This week, our very own Clare Ciervo (current President of ACT OUT!) was profiled on the site! Be sure to check it out here!

Queer Pop Culture - Mini Course

Mini Course: Queer Pop Culture
Wednesdays, April 8, 15, 22, & 29
4-5:30pm @ Rocky 201
Instructor: Julie Silverstein, Assistant Director for Campus Life/LGBTQ Programs

This course will examine the history of the gay rights movement in America and how it has impacted the portrayal of queer characters on television and in movies. We will also compare common themes within mainstream media and queer subculture films and TV.

To sign up for this course, e-mail Julie at jusilverstein@vassar.edu by Friday, February 27th! (or register through Ann Lynch at anlynch@vassar.edu)

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Edinanci Fernandes da Silva

(Posted by Dominic, '11)
When in Doubt- international athletic competitions and intersexuality: Edinanci Fernandes da Silva

Edinanci Fernandes da Silva (born in 1976) is a Brazilian judoka from São Paulo. She has represented Brazil so far three times in the Summer Olympics, beginning in 1996. She also won the gold medal in the half heavyweight division at the Pan American Games. She was born with one of many conditions classified under the umbrella term “intersex conditions” (literally being ‘between the societally recognized sexes’), which affect about 1 in 1000 people, and can occur as a result of chromosomes, hormones, internal sex organs and/or external sex organs.

Edinanci Silva received surgery in the 1990’s in order to compete legally and live as a woman. Whatever an individual’s personal choices are about surgery- I believe that it should be just that— a personal choice, made in adulthood, with informed consent.

It could be that major athletic competitions have taken things too far for athletes like da Silva. For the Beijing Olympics, officials worked for more than a year to design laboratory tests to arbitrarily force competitors whose “sex is in doubt” to submit to a series of invasive and often unwanted tests to verify that they may compete as women or men. The testing this past summer clearly targeted athletes competing in the women’s divisions who were ‘suspect’ for being ‘too strong’. This testing is inherently unfair for a variety of reasons—not the least of which is for the protection and security of those intersexual athletes who wish to compete. If you are not traditionally sexed (i.e. if you are not clearly biologically male or female, or have biological characteristics of both), the tests will inevitably show some differences—thereby subjecting these athletes to the harsh eye of the media and to possible disqualification for nothing more than a characteristic of their biological body. Because intersex conditions can display with such variety hormonally, chromosomally, and physically, athletes who are tested may not even know that they have such a condition, having lived their entire lives as one sex or the other.

In the 2004 Olympics, Edinanci Silva was subject to such a test, and she passed. Suspicion, but not the media’s eye, was removed from her. This strong athlete represented her country for years, but was only allowed to do so after her surgery. Even years after, competitors beaten by da Silva routinely refer to her with masculine pronouns, showing ignorance and disrespect for intersexual persons.

Other athletes, with no prior knowledge of their condition, have in the past been stripped of their medals and subjected to harsh criticism by the media and by the very countries they represent proudly. Santhi Soundarajan, a 27-year old Indian athlete, was stripped of a silver medal for the 800m at the Asian games in 2006 after ‘failing’ a test comprised of physical examinations, endocrinological tests, psychological tests, and genetic tests due to a condition called “androgen insensitivity syndrome”. She has lived and identified as female for her entire life, and was reported in September to have attempted suicide due to her public and national humiliation, caused by the blatant ignorance about intersexuality displayed by many international competitive athletic games.

Check out this video showing some of Edinanci Silva's martial artistry!

Upcoming Center Happenings

TONIGHT - Friday, February 20
7pm @ LGBTQ Center

Gayme Night

Saturday, February 21
9pm @ LGBTQ Center

Coffee Hour

Monday, February 23
6:30-8pm @ LGBTQ Center

Yea, I'm Gay. But...

(Posted by Nick, '11)

I thought I'd give you the day off from my long-winded blog posts. Here's some (cute) food for thought:

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Staceyann Chin

"Staceyann Chin is a fulltime artist. A resident of New York City and a Jamaican National, she has been an “out poet and political activist” since 1998. From the rousing cheers of the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe to one-woman shows Off- Broadway to poetry workshops in Denmark and London to co-writer and performer in the Tony nominated, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Chin credits the long list of "things she has done" to her grandmother's hard-working history and the pain of her mother's absence." (stacyannchin.com)

Chin performed at Vassar in Spring 2008 as part of the Vassar First Year's "Art as Activism: 3 Poets, 1 Mic" program (see picture). The following poem is a great example of how she discusses her intersecting identities in her spoken word pieces.

by Staceyann Chin

Am I a feminist
or a womanist
the student needs to know
if I do men occasionally
and primarily am I a lesbian

Tongue twisted in cheek I attempt to respond with honesty-

This business of sexual dykes and dykery
I tell her
is often messy-with social tensions as they are
you never quite know what you're getting
-some girls can only be straight at night
-hardcore butches be wearing dresses
between nine and six during the day
sometimes she is really a he trapped
by the limitations of our imagination-

I am concerned about young women
who are raped on college campuses
in cars
after poetry readings like this one
in bars
bruised lip and broken heart
you will forgive her if she does not come
forward with the truth immediately

Everyone will think she asked for it
dressed as she was she must have wanted it

The words will knock about in her head
horny bitch
loose woman
some people cannot handle a woman on the loose
you know those women in silk-ties and pin-striped shirts
women in blood-red stilettos and short pink skirts
-these women make New York City the most interesting place
and while we're on the subject of diversity
Asia is not one big race
and there is no such country called the Islands
and no-I am not from there

There are a hundred ways
to slip between the cracks
of our not-so-credible cultural assumptions
and other peoples' interpretations of race and religion

Most people are surprised my father is Chinese-like
there's some preconditioned
look for the half-Chinese lesbian poet
who used to be Catholic but now believes in dreams

Let's keep it real
says the boy in the double-X hooded sweatshirt
that blond haired blue eyed Jesus in the Vatican ain't right
that motherfucker was Jewish, not white

Christ was a Middle Eastern Rastaman
who ate grapes in the company of prostitutes
and drank wine more than he drank water
born of the spirit the disciples also loved him in the flesh
but the discourse is on people who clearly identify as gay
or lesbian or straight
the State needs us to be left or right
those in the middle get caught
in the cross-fire away at the other side

If you are not for us you must be against us
People get scared enough they pick a team

Be it for Buddha or for Krishna or for Christ
God is that place between belief and what you name it
I believe holy is what you do
when there is nothing between your actions and the truth

I am afraid to draw your black lines around me
I am not always pale in the middle
I come in too many flavors for one fucking spoon

I am never one thing or the other-
at night I am everything I fear
tears and sorrows
black windows and muffled screams
in the morning I am all I want to be
wild rain and open laughter
bare footprints and invisible seams
always without breath or definition-I claim every dawn
for yesterday is simply what I was
and tomorrow
even that will be gone

Ask Not - Film Screening

Ask Not
Thursday, February 19
7pm @ Rocky 200

Sponsored by ACT OUT!
"ASK NOT is a rare and compelling documentary film that explores the effects of the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay and lesbian soldiers and service members. The film exposes the tangled political battles that led to the discriminatory law and examines the societal shifts that have occurred since its passage in 1993. Current and veteran gay soldiers reveal how “don’t ask, don’t tell” affects them during their tours of duty, as they struggle to maintain a double life, uncertain of whom they can trust. The film also explores how gay veterans and youth organizers are turning to forms of personal activism to overturn the policy. From a national speaking tour of conservative universities to protests at military recruitment offices, these public events question how the U.S. military can claim to represent democracy and freedom while denying one segment of the population the right to serve." (Taken directly from the asknotfilm website)

Look for all the Vassar students in the movie trailer! Come see the film to catch more glimpses of Vassar students, or maybe even yourself!

13 Love Stories

13LoveStories.com is a unique multimedia advocacy project that profiles the moving stories of thirteen couples whose lives were profoundly affected by Proposition 8 - the recent California ballot initiative that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.

In the media campaign leading up to the hotly contested November 2008 vote, something essential was missing: images of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples whose relationships hung in the balance. 13LoveStories.com presents a series of short films that redress the absence of such images. Featuring real voices and personal photographs, the films provide direct access to a diverse cross-section of committed couples in and around Los Angeles.

This project was started in January 2009 by Gideon Mendel, a London-based photographer. To see all 13 films, check out their website here. This is just one example of their moving stories...

How to be an Ally Workshop

The LEADERSHIP FOR CHANgE Program is offering a workshop about "How to be an Ally" tomorrow! This relates to our Ally Week Awareness Campaign, so I would encourage everyone to attend this workshop if you can.

How to be an Ally
Wednesday, February 18
6-7pm @ College Center, 204


Part of the LEADERSHIP FOR CHANgE Social Consciousness Track
Presenter - Jess Bennet, House Advisor
Workshop Description - To be an effective leader and ally, you must be supportive of the surrounding communities even if it is not one you personally identify with. The process of becoming an ally begins with familiarizing yourself with issues, histories, and languages of various identities. This workshop will discuss how to create a safe space and become an advocate for those that may not have a voice.

To register for LEADERSHIP FOR CHANgE, or learn more about the program, visit their website here!

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Glenn Burke

(Posted by Tristan, '12)
Glenn Burke was known for many firsts. He is credited with giving the first high-five, a practice now so common no one really questions its origins. But, even greater, he was the first MLB player to come out as gay. In 1982, two years after leaving professional baseball, Burke officially came out. Yet, Burke believes that people may have known while he was still playing. He was originally signed with the Dodgers, but was traded to the A’s. Burke’s former teammates were angry about the trade, because they saw Burke as being a much better player. What was General Manager Al Campanis’s real reason for trading Burke? We can’t know but one likely explanation was that Campanis found out that Burke was gay. Burke was very close with Campanis’s son, a gay man who had died of AIDS and Campanis had previously suggested that Burke get married in order to improve his image and the image of the Dodger’s team. Burke spent a year and a half with the A’s, but retired prematurely because he felt that his secret was not safe playing in his hometown (both Burke and the A’s are from Oakland, CA).

Burke declined rapidly after leaving baseball. He played basketball and softball locally, but his career in sports ended after a car hit him and broke his leg. He became addicted to drugs and his new behavior pushed away most of his friends. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994 and he died from the disease in 1995.

While Burke had many problems in the second half of his life, he accomplished so much while playing baseball. In an interview with People Magazine, Burke said "My mission as a gay ballplayer was to break a stereotype . . . I think it worked." Although Burke broke stereotypes, there has been, to this date, only one other MLB player who has come out (Billy Bean) and no one who has been an active player while being open about their sexuality.

TransMission General Interest Meeting

(Posted by TransMission)
Tuesday, February 17
7pm @ LGBTQ Center (CC 235)

TransMission is a relatively new student group dedicated to making Vassar campus safe, comfortable, and accessible to trans, gender variant, and sex variant community members. We’re working on becoming VSA-certified and are holding our first general interest meeting next week. Anyone who is interested in hearing what we’re about, what we’re up to, getting on our email list, or supporting our attempt to become certified is more than welcome.

The meeting will be short (we promise not to interfere with the Augusten Burroughs lecture!) and there will be free pizza and homemade cookies!

Augusten Burroughs to Speak at Vassar!

After documenting his unusual childhood in the best-selling memoir Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs was hailed as one of the "25 Funniest People in America" by Entertainment Weekly. Burroughs, who will deliver The Alex Krieger '95 Memorial Lecture, is also the author of Sellevision, Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects, and A Wolf at the Table. Running with Scissors, which spent more than four years on the New York Times Best Seller list, also spawned an Oscar-nominiated film. His writing has also appeared in magazines, literary journals, and newspapers around the world. His visit to Vassar will include a lecture, followed by a question and answer session and a book signing.

Come see this openly gay writer on Tuesday, February 17
8pm @ UpCDC (Student's Building, 2nd Floor)

A Cure for HIV?

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Doctors at Berlin’s Charité Hospital may have found a way to cure patients testing positive for HIV. In recent years, it has become apparent that those that have a mutation in the CCR5 gene are in fact immune to HIV. This is well-documented in Africa, where scientists have noted that many prostitutes are exposed to HIV multiple times, yet do not get infected. It is this mutation that has apparently cured a man of the virus.

The patient, a 42-year-old American, had been infected with HIV for a decade. After years of undergoing antiretroviral treatments, he was diagnosed with leukemia. To treat him, doctors in Berlin specifically sought out a bone marrow donor that carried the CCR5 mutation. Two years after having the bone marrow transplant, the man still tests negative for HIV.

Speaking to the British newspaper The Independent, Dr. Hutter of the Charité Hospital said, “It is the longest time someone who has had antiretroviral therapy and stopped has lasted without the virus rebounding. Normally it rebounds within weeks. It is the closest we have come to a cure.”

The article goes on: “Dr Hutter said a bone marrow transplant would be too risky as a routine treatment for HIV and too difficult to find donors with the right genetic make-up. But a modification of the approach using gene therapy to render a patient HIV-resistant could work, he said.”

Though this doesn’t provide for a definitive cure of the disease, as there are other tissues, such as the brain and the liver, in which the virus could hide, it certainly gives hope to the millions of people infected with HIV and AIDS that we are close to finding a cure.

You can read the entire article here.

LGBTV - Tonight!

TONIGHT - 7pm @ LGBTQ Center
Check out our facebook group for more details.

How Does Queer Sex Make You Feel?

The LGBTQ Center tabled at Sexpo last Monday and, in spirit of the theme for the event, we asked people to answer the question “How Does Queer Sex Make You Feel?” Here are some of the responses:

It kind of hurts… but in a GOOD way!
Wanted and on the Ball!
Don’t know yet… still all virgin-y
Hot and Sweaty!
Like a spring daisy!
Yummy and wet!

If you didn’t get a chance to write something or are more comfortable posting anonymously feel free to comment on this post and share how queer sex makes you feel!

Fruit Salad! - TOMORROW!

Fruit Salad! - Queer People of Color
Friday, February 13
12-1pm @ LGBTQ Center


Part of our Fruit Salad! series of discussions about diversity in the queer community.

Sex-Positive Film Screening - TONIGHT!

TONIGHT - Thursday, February 12
6:30pm @ Rocky 101
Film Screening and Discussion with Richard Berkowitz
Sponsored by QCVC
SEX POSITIVE explores the life of Richard Berkowitz, a revolutionary gay S&M- hustler-turned-AIDS activist in the 1980s, whose incomparable contribution to the invention of safe sex has never been aptly credited. Berkowitz emerged from the epicenter of the epidemic as a community leader, demanding a solution to the problem before anyone else would pay attention. However, it was not Berkowitz' voice alone that sparked contention.

Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, a controversial virologist and AIDS doctor, postulated that AIDS was more complicated than just a new virus. With Sonnabend's theory in tow, Berkowitz fought, alongside beloved activist and musician Michael Callen, for safer sex practices without giving up on sex altogether.

SEX POSITIVE explores the explicit bravery of this unrecognized triumvirate, and their dire quest to save lives in the midst of unwavering dissent. Now destitute and alone, Mr. Berkowitz tells his story to a world who never wanted to listen.

Through the eyes of Mr. Berkowitz, the audience is made witness to a graphic testimony of sex, death, and betrayal, while placing the invention of ‘safe sex’ in a fresh and compelling context.

Paid LGBT Internships

The R. Scott Hitt Foundation is offering funding for qualified candidates who want to be future leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. You and the pro-LGBT organization that you choose apply to receive funding for your internship position while you build your resume and gain valuable skills towards becoming a leader of the future.

*Post Graduate*
Application Deadline: May 8, 2009
  • Post graduate students with strong academic record
  • Duration: 7-9 months, 40 hour week - $20,000 Grant to sponsor 501(c)3
  • Location: An established 501(c)3 nonprofit in the United States with a commitment to the advancement of LGBT equality
  • Applicant contacts host organization they want to work at and co-develops a successful curriculum emcompassing key elements: communications, fundraising, board development, and grassroots policy
  • 2-4 recipients per year.
Application Deadline: April 17, 2009
  • Current undergraduate students with strong academic record
  • Duration: 8 weeks, 40 hour week - $4,000 Grant to sponsor 501(c)3
  • Location: An established 501(c)3 nonprofit in Southern California with a commitment to the advancement of LGBT equality
  • Applicant contacts host organization they want to work at and co-develops a successful curriculum emcompassing key elements of non-profit operations and program development
  • Named for the nonprofit ANGLE (Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality) which inspired and provided the funding for these internships
  • 3-5 recipients per year
1. Visit this website for details.
2. Meet with a pro-LBGT 501(C)3 non-profit organization to sponsor your internship.
3. Agree to the terms of your internship and scope of work with your sponsoring organization.
Construct sponsor agreement in cooperation with your chosen 501(c)3.
4. Submit your cover letter, personal essay, résumé and sponsor agreement
by the above deadline to www.scotthittfoundation.org.
5. Check www.scotthittfoundation.org for grant award dates.

For more details, check out their website here!

Celebrating Queer People of Color - John Amaechi

(posted by Nick, '11)
John Amaechi is a former professional athlete, author, and queer role model. He played on various teams in the NBA from 1995 to 2003. He is noted in his career for being the first player to score points in the new millennium, as well as for his decision to turn down a $17 million contract with the Lakers to stay with Orlando for $600,000. In February 2007, Amaechi became the first player associated with the NBA to come out.

Since coming out, he has released a book, Man in the Middle, which documents living as a closeted queer athlete. The Campus Life LGBTQ Center has a signed copy of it! Being of British birth, Amaechi was a correspondent for BBC during the Beijing Olympic games, covering men’s and women’s basketball. Also in 2008, Amaechi made appearances on the LOGO reality show “Shirts and Skins,” on which he was a mentor and psychologist to the San Francisco Rockdogs, a gay basketball team.

John Amaechi visited the LGBTQ Center last year when he was on campus to give a lecture. Perhaps the most interesting fact about him is that his arm span can reach around five people who are standing! (See picture)

Free Film Screening Opportunity

On Monday, February 23, SUNY New Paltz will be screening Do I Look Fat? - a documentary about gay men, body image, and eating disorders. The filmmaker will be there to host a discussion after the screening. Learn more about the movie here.

The LGBTQ Center in Kingston has been offered a limited amount of free tickets to give away for this screening, please let me know (jusilverstein@vassar.edu) ASAP if you are interested in attending!

ASA & Intersextions Discussion

"Asians and Asian Americans Within the Queer Community"
Wednesday, February 11
8-9pm @ ALANA Center

Snacks will be provided!

Come join ASA and Intersextions as we discuss the stereotypes of the fetishized Asian female/demasculinized Asian male, and how these images affect members of the Queer Community.

Celebrating Queer People of Color - Audre Lorde

(Posted by Loghann, '10)
Audre Lorde
"black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet"
Audre Lorde was an incredible queer woman of color born in 1934 and still considered a tremendously important voice in modern feminism.

She was an activist and a writer, as well as a survivor: she battled the breast cancer that would eventually take her life for 12 years. Openly queer, she challenged the feminist movement's rejection of queer women and women of color. One of her most famous works is a challenge to the mainstream white feminism of the day, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House."

There's so much to be said about Audre Lorde that I think it almost cheapens it for me to try and put her down in a blog post. Instead, here's a poem:

"Who Said It Was Simple" by Audre Lorde

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

My Story

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Seeing as how tonight’s LGBTV movie concerns the intersection between religion and sexuality (in the form of a gay man dealing with his Mormon upbringing), I think it would be appropriate for me to write about their intersection in my life. My family is Roman Catholic. From about birth to age 17 I attended mass every Sunday. I was the star student in religion class (I went to public school, and attended religion on the weekend), not necessarily because I was a pious person, but because I was a star student in general. Religion was just another subject for me. In March of 2005, my cousin and I proposed the founding of a vacation bible school (VBS) at our church. No Catholic churches in the area had a substantial one, and we wanted to provide an alternative for those Catholic families who were sending their children to Protestant VBS programs. Our parochial vicar agreed to it, and soon we were in a mad rush to put on an event that needed a ton of planning. It was a success.

Fast forward to 2008. In my fourth year as director and fresh off of my first year at college, I decide that it would be my last as director. I always found VBS to be a fun thing to do, not necessarily because of the religious aspect of it, but because of the huge leadership skills that I acquired and used through it. I would manage a staff of about 40-50 teens and adults every year. That’s a huge thing for a 15-year-old, much less an 18-year-old! We were also very successful in raising money (through spare change donation) for our parish Sharing Committee – this past summer alone we raised over $1300 for needy families in our community. The reason I do VBS is because it’s a lot of hard work that really pays off with a feel-good feeling in the end.

People ask me if I have a hard time reconciling my faith with my sexuality. Not really. I’m more of a hands-off Catholic at this point. I recognize that I grew up Catholic, and that will always be a part of me. I can’t deny it. Right now, though, I take the teachings of the Church with a grain of salt. There need to be huge changes effected in the Church in order for me to believe in it fully again. For those that don’t know, the Catholic Church’s official stance on homosexuality is that it is not a sin to be queer – they’ve come to their senses and realized it’s not something you choose – but engaging in sexual acts with others of the same sex is considered a mortal sin. So the queer person’s burden in life is to be celibate. It’s not a teaching I agree with, and I know many Catholics who don’t either. Unfortunately, it’s something that won’t be changing anytime soon.

LGBTV is back!

Starting tonight, the LGBTQ Center will host a movie night Every Friday Night at 7pm. We will be showing a different movie each week, all pertaining to the queer community.

For more details, find us on facebook by searching for "LGBTV" (if you are in the Vassar Network). Light refreshments will be provided, but feel free to bring your own as well!

Tonight's movie will be hosted by intern Nick, '11.

Gender Neutral Restrooms!

Over the break, buildings and grounds put up new signs that created about 40 new gender neutral restrooms across campus. These are all in academic and administrative buildings, since the resident houses already have gender neutral restrooms.

Here is the list of buildings that have new gender neutral restrooms, and their locations:
Baldwin (118, 129A, 1A, 200L, 307A)
Blodgett (1A, 217A, 238, A1)
CDF (113)
Chicago (114A)
Ely (106A, 2A, 207)
Kautz (1A, 1B)
Kenyon (126)
Loeb (L204A)
Main (S160A)
Metcalf (3A)
New England (206B)
Old Observatory (107, 108)
Olmsted (210)
Sanders Classrooms (329, 308)
Sanders Physics (202A)
Skinner (12)
Students Building (1A)
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Celebrating Queer People of Color

February is Black History Month. This was established by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) as a way to create and disseminate knowledge about Black History (asalh.org). As the LGBTQ Center on campus, we would like to take this month to focus on the intersecting identities of Queer People of Color (QPOC).

We all know that there are many specific challenges faced by members of the queer community. These range from lack of family acceptance, to legal discrimination at the state and federal level, and everything in between. These issues are often further complicated for QPOC because of on-going racism, and various cultural aspects of communities of color they might belong to. For example, in many communities of color heterosexist gender role expectations are often stronger and more of a cultural focus than in white communities. In Asian (and other) cultures, sex/sexuality itself can be a very taboo topic, which can make coming out to family even more challenging. Additionally, religious institutions often play a large role in communities of color, which sometimes give clear heterosexist/homophobic messages.

Aside from the heterosexist/homophobic issues within communities of color, QPOC also face racism and cultural insensitivities from the prodominately white queer community. I would like to think of the queer community as the most inclusive of all minority groups, since queer people come from all different background, but unfortunately that is not always the case. In fact, the term "queer" itself is sometimes referred to as "white term" that many people of color do not identify with. Most mainstream representations of queer people (stereotypes, media images, etc.) focus on white queer people and do not take into consideration cultural differences among communities of color.

This is a very brief overview of just some possible issues involved in the intersecting identities of QPOC. Throughout the month of February, we hope to use this blog as a way to focus on this theme, and celebrate QPOC. If you self-identify as a queer person of color, and would like to contribute to this blog, please e-mail me a post and I will publish it for you (as always, just let me know in the e-mail if you prefer to remain annonymous). We will also be planning programs for the Vassar Community that focus on QPOC during this month, so stay tuned for more information!

Promiscuity vs. Polyamory: Not sluts in denial - let's get the story straight...er...

(Posted by Dominic, '11)
We all know that we live in a society whose scientific studies often base normalcy on the ability of a person to hold a heterosexual relationship- and we certainly question that criterion. However, there is another criterion I find equally as problematic, especially to my own lifestyle. The fact is, most scientific studies base “health”, “balance” and “normalcy” not only on heterosexuality, but also on the ability to remain in one heterosexual relationship.

I’m not bashing monogamy. Monogamy is certainly a baseline…for the monogamous. But what of those of us out here who identify as…*gasp*… nonmonogamous.

But wait- aren’t I talking about a lack of ability to commit? Promiscuity? Cheating?

No. And far from it. Nonmonogamous or polyamorous folks don’t operate under the guise of ‘anything goes’. In fact, those that I’ve met (myself included) operate under a sense of communication, openness, and honesty, above all. Bottom line.

To tell the truth, I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing this post since my Developmental professor, in discussion the pros and cons of monogamy from a purely biological standpoint, referred to promiscuity and polyamory interchangeably. Even after I asked her about the possibility of a person being in multiple, committed partnerships.

I certainly don’t think she did it out of any malevolence, but her attitude reflects a general societal trend to marginalize those of us who don’t find ourselves in that particular baseline for normalcy, similar to particular attitudes about the “abnormality” of members of the LGBTQ community.

Should we accept that any or all of these identities are abnormal…or should we accept all of these identities…and move on? Personally, I feel that everyone should do what is right for them, be it who they love, how they love, or how many they love.

For more info about polyfolk, poly relationships, etc, take a look at these links: