By Lily Jamaludin
From talks by an ex-MLB umpire to slide shows with the title BDSM 101, the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) coordinated a varied set of events to celebrate its annual Pride Week. The SRC attempted to highlight the diversity of voices and opinions within queer activism with many events, speakers and workshops.
“This year, what’s been interesting is that we really wanted to get speakers and activities from groups and voices that aren’t normally represented in queer movements,” said Taylor Nys ’13, Programming Coordinator of the SRC.
Robert Mulry ’13, Manager of the SRC, echoed Nys’ emphasis on a broad perspective on pride.
“The type of pride that I wanted to put out there and work with others to put out there is a pride that is all-encompassing, and has enough voices that [it includes] people that feel more mainstream and have their more mainstream movements, but we also have to have dissenting voices and critical voices,” Mulry said.
On Monday, Danielle Askini, the founder of the Gender Justice League, presented a talk entitled “Gender Justice.” In her talk, she covered issues encountered in her work as a trans-activist, social worker and writer.
Askini began her speech with statistics regarding transgender inequality.
“Forty-one percent of trans-people have attempted suicide at some point in their lives,” Askini said. “Gender justice is about recognizing that we live in a world that is structured around systems of power and oppression that benefit some of us at the expense of other people. It is about understanding how affirmation and spiritual healing must be at the core of how we work together.”
Askini was the Transgender Advocacy Group’s first speaker.
“The proudest moment for me personally, because I’m also a co-leader of TAG, is to have TAG’s first speaker come: Danielle. And she’s been doing amazing work in Seattle, and just hearing such a…large presence in activism come talk to us about how activism functions outside of a college setting is really, really helpful for a lot of students,” Nys said.
On Tuesday, The Iowa AIDS Foundation also held activities related to LGBT sexual health. Presenters gave a lecture on sexual health and demonstrations on how to use condoms; items such as dental damns, female condoms, water-based lubricants and other items were given to promote safe sex practices. That evening, the foundation also provided free HIV/AIDS testing open to all students.
“Grinnell students discuss issues on consent, but do not have enough conversations about safe sex. During the presentation, students were able to ask questions about HIV, STDs and talk about the increase of chlamydia cases on campus,” said Chelsie Salvatera ’14.
That same day, David Pallone also presented a talk entitled “Who’s Really on First?” Pallone is a former Major League Baseball umpire and discussed his experience as a gay man in baseball.
“David Pallone was not into marriage equality, which is really interesting. He gave a very different perspective. It’s nice to have so many different voices, because I think oftentimes when we bring one speaker per semester, it’s like that becomes, ‘that is the queer voice, that is the one representation of [the queer] community,’” Mulry said.
All week long, a poster was held up in the JRC with confession-style notes from LGBTA Christians.
“Being Christian and transgender is kind of an odd experience. On top of all the other questions in which one dwells when trans, one has to grapple with the issue of, if God created you, who you ‘really’ are, are you a man, because God created your body as what we call ‘male’? Or are you a woman, because She created your mind and soul that way?” read one note.
Another note said, “I grew up in a Christian community that would not accept that I am gay. But I no longer doubt that God accepts me. I trust that He loves me, as I am.”
Other events that occurred this week included the GoGo Photoshoot, an “Addressing Kinkphobia” lecture discussing varied sexual practices, and an Art History event entitled “Queer Projection: Theses on the ‘Future of an Illusion.’”
The week will culminate with the spring semester Drag Show this Saturday in Harris, hosted by QPOC. Doors will open at 9 p.m.
Mulry and Nys both highlighted the importance of recognizing and taking pride in the variety of queer voices existing within activism.
“What does pride mean to you? I think that everyone can answer that question, because we’re all proud of something in ourselves, and different parts of ourselves,” Mulry said. “We are trying to get as diverse a cross-section of queer identities as possible from this Pride Week.”