QSU and BiGLATA gear up for Queer Pride Days events

Queer Pride Days 2003 are currently underway, running from April 14 – 26 and featuring a variety of events designed to increase visibility and support for the queer community on campus. The two week-long program was organized by the Queer Student Union (QSU) in conjunction with the Michael Dively ’61 Committee and The Williams College Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Alumni Network (BiGLATA).

“I think that the general goal for the two Pride Weeks is to plan a wide variety of events that are entertaining, informative, and worthwhile for the queer community,” said Adrienne Ellman ’03, co-coordinator of the QSU.

This year’s events also coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Michael Dively ’61 fund, which has provided much of the funding and organization. “We hope to bring the entire campus together through these celebratory events and to honor the commitment to diversity inspired by Mike Dively’s vision for the committee,” said Professor Denise Buell, co-chair of the committee. “The Dively Committee strives to advance the college’s overall support for diversity. As a quick glance at the range of co-sponsors for this week’s events indicates, the Dively committee brings programming to campus that creates alliances across the College to build a stronger College community.”

Highlights of the week include several talks and the traditional ‘Queer Bash’ party on Saturday night. Susie Bright, author and self-described sex expert, will be presenting “An Evening with Susie Bright” at the Adams Memorial Theater at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Her resume includes several published works, including The Sexual State of the Union and How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing and Publishing Erotica.

On Friday, Katie Bornstein, a transsexual performance artist and author, will perform “On Men, Women and the Rest of Us” at Adams Memorial Theater at 8 p.m. Her books are taught at universities around the world and she has performed her work live at college campuses and theaters across the country, as well as internationally. She currently has two plays in production: “Too Tall Blondes in: LOVE” in Boston and a hip-hop musical, “Strangers in Paradox,” in San Francisco.

Pride Days will culminate in a series of events on Saturday which will bring several high- profile activists to campus. A queer media panel will be held at Images Theater, from 1-3 p.m., featuring Gene Falk ’75, head of the new Showtime/MTV gay cable channel, producer-director Laura Nix and Kouros Esmaeli, a queer film maker. This will be followed by a lecture by civil rights lawyer and activist Shannon Minter, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, entitled “Do Transsexuals Dream of Gay Rights? How the Battle for Transgender Inclusion in the Gay Rights Movement Has Been (Nearly) Won.” The talk will take place at 5 p.m. in Griffin 3.

The evening will conclude with the Queer Extravaganza at 9 p.m. in Goodrich Hall and feature performances by solo theatrical performer Rob Nash and vocal impressionist Jimmy James, as well as a DJ beginning at 11 p.m. “Queer bash is always fun — but we have an extra large celebration this year because of Dively,” Ellman said.

The events began this past week with tabling in Baxter, as well as an interfaith service at Chaplain Richard Spalding’s home with the theme of “What you live for.” On Saturday a group went to the Chrysalis end-stage AIDS community in Pownal, Vt. in conjunction with the Lehman Service Council. In addition, a “Queer as Folk” film screening marathon took place on Tuesday.

Screenings continue this week with a series of queer videos at Images, April 21 – 23, to display the work of new queer filmmakers, independent and mainstream, American and International. These screenings are free to anyone with a Williams ID. They will conclude with a seminar at 7 p.m. on Wednesday with Julie Wyman, queer film and video artist in Spencer Video Studio.

Organizers hope that the scope and quality of the scheduled events will attract attention on campus. “We hope these events are well attended and maybe will help open up people’s minds a little, especially the focus later on in the week on transgender/transsexual issues, which are so mysterious and rarely considered by gay people as well as straight people,” said Annie Moore ’04, co-coordinator of the QSU.

Ellman echoed these ides: “We definitely have fun,” she said. “It’s a nice time for a community that is otherwise occupied and distracted, like all Williams students, to come together and support queer pride.”

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