GLOW attends conference

Arielle Steinberg

What is blue, white and has rainbows on it? That would be the two Lawrence vans that shuttled GLOW members to the annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference held at Indiana University in Bloomington this reading period.
More than just an exhausting acronym, MBLGTACC featured a variety of lectures, workshops and performances to be enjoyed by all. After an eight-hour drive, GLOW members were treated to the comedy sensations of Outmedia’s Queer Riot tour including nationally recognized and televised talents Marga Gomez, Jason Stuart, Vidur Kapur and the hilarious Julie Goldman.
Most of the acts were politically charged about gay marriage, but many of the punch lines poked fun at a range of LGBT stereotypes or explored the comedians’ own experiences in being queer.
Saturday, the conference schedule was filled with a plethora of workshops ranging in topics from religion and homosexuality to vampires. One lecture, which about half of the group attended, was about images of LGBT people in the media from 1961 until today. This presentation was given by Neil Giuliano, the president of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, an organization that promotes sensitivity to the queer community in the mainstream media.
Through television and movie clips, Giuliano demonstrated the changing social attitudes toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
Historically, the media displayed stereotypically flamboyant images of LGBT people, or showed them as nothing more than mentally ill sexual predators. However, in the ’80s, television and film began exhibiting the beginning of positive and accurate images of LGBT people as living happy, healthy, everyday lives. This new attitude presents itself today in television shows including “Degrassi,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “The L Word.”
In addition to the workshops, GLOW members took the opportunity to tour a special gallery at the Kinsey Institute, located in Bloomington, which focused on images in the media and art depicting gays and lesbians before Stonewall.
The exhibit was small but included a range of sketches, photographs and newspaper articles referencing LGBT lifestyles before the 1969 Stonewall riots and the subsequent mainstream visibility of the queer community.
Later that evening, the group went to a performance by The Kinsey Sicks, self-proclaimed “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet.”
The show consisted of four drag queens dressed in over-the-top ’60s diva outfits. They performed comedic dialogue centered on their barbershop quartet act. The show was amazingly entertaining, witty and even interactive, in the cases when the quartet jokingly harassed people in the audience.
After the performance, GLOW mingled with students from schools across the Midwest at a dance held in a historic dance hall. Besides the music and dance, attendees enjoyed a special drag show performance by locally renowned artists. As the end of the conference drew near, GLOW members packed their bags, said goodbye to new friends and boarded the vans back to Lawrence.