GLOW hosts second conference

Veronica DeVore

On Saturday, April 9, Lawrence University’s student organization Gay, Lesbian, Other or Whatever sponsored its second annual conference to educate the Lawrence and Appleton communities about gender issues. The conference featured three separate workshops each comprised of multiple speakers and events, keynote speaker Robyn Ochs, and an evening drag show and dance. The event was well attended both by Lawrence students and several members of the Fox Valley community.
The first workshop consisted of three presentations. Lawrence German professor Brent Peterson showed clips from three German gay-themed films “Different from the Others” (1919), “Michael” (1924), and “Sex in Chains” (1928). His presentation focused on the treatment of gay characters in these films, since it was a very new concept at the time. Guest speaker Trish Welte from Naral Pro-Choice discussed the relationships between the pro-choice movement and gay, lesbian, and transgender issues. Finally, English professor Timothy Spurgin led a discussion of writer Eve Sedgwick’s development of “queer theory.” Students read excerpts from her books and discussed the various meanings and connotations of the word “queer.” Lawrence student and GLOW member Christina Zambon said that Sedgwick communicated the duality of gender issues very well. “We discussed that people may think they’re sexually abnormal, but really, everyone is,” she said. “That’s what she really brings across.”
Afternoon workshops included presentations such as “The Biblical Position on Homosexuality” by anthropology professor Peter Peregrine and “Loosening the Gender Girdle: How Gender Affects You” by keynote speaker Robin Ochs. Ochs is a bisexual speaker, workshop leader, teacher, writer, and activist who travels around the United States presenting interactive workshops for colleges and community groups. Her keynote address, delivered later in the evening, specifically focused on how people define themselves in terms of gender. Zambon said that in the speech, “[Ochs] discussed the old definitions of “lesbian” and “gay” and how not everyone fits into those categories.”
The final event of the conference was a drag show and dance in Riverview Lounge. Both students and members of the Appleton community streamed in and quickly filled the room. A flamboyant Nick Endres hosted the event and kept the audience laughing between acts. The evening’s highlights included caricatures of a schoolgirl rocker, a couple of soccer-playing frat boys, and a certain movie character from Idaho who “still loves technology.”
Overall, the conference was successful in bringing many different people together to learn about and celebrate gender differences. Its speakers and events certainly upheld and furthered GLOW’s mission “to encourage acceptance of, diversity among, and respect for all members of the Lawrence University student body, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.