Alexis Boylan, professor of art history, filled her presentation with key images of and by lesbians demonstrating the struggle to overcome the ambiguity of sapphic sexuality. Works by such artists as Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Catherine Opie were highlighted in her workshop. “What a Lesbian Looks Like: The Problems and Promise of Picturing Identity” was just one of a series of lectures held Saturday, April 3, during the Lawrence GLBTQ Conference sponsored by GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever). Students and GLOW members Kelly Carden, Courtney Doucette, and Nissa Syverson suggested this conference. Funded with $1,000 from the Class of 1965 Student Affairs grant, the conference focused on overcoming the binaries of gender and sexuality, and instead offering the option of sex and gender as a spectrum.
Many students and professors gathered to explore questions of sexuality and society. Student Christina Zambon attended the conference to affirm her belief in the “possibilities of fluidity between gender and sexual roles.” She, like others who attended the conference, came away with new viewpoints on these issues. Other students substantiated this view, recognizing the importance of exposing these different perspectives to the campus. Prof. Terry Rew-Gottfried, of psychology and gender studies, attended the conference out of his pedagogical interest in gender identity and sexual orientation.
As part of the conference, a drag show fund-raiser was held later in the evening in the Riverview Lounge. According to Nick Endres, Mistress of Ceremonies, the show came off “surprisingly well. I only heard positive feedback.” He also mentioned that the audience behaved appropriately, with none of the hecklers the performers feared would inevitably crop up. Student Shaunna Burnett, coordinator of the drag show, concurred, adding that she thought the performers did “an excellent job.” Funds were allocated to the GLOW treasury to cover additional expenses of the conference.
Surprisingly, there was little controversy surrounding the conference and its theme. Courtney Doucette stated that those who attended the conference were generally positive. Several students expressed pleasant surprise at the lack of backlash against the GLBTQ community. However, they conceded that Lawrence was a fairly open campus concerning homosexuality. Doucette explained that the conference was crafted to suit everyone, not just for gay or straight people, but everyone in between. “The context of these ideas – that there is a spectrum across sex and gender – apply to everyone,” she said.