GLOW hosts queer conference

April West

The Gay, Lesbian, Other or Whatever organization hosted its fourth annual queer conference at Lawrence the weekend of April 6-8.
The festivities included the drag show on Friday night, the Queer Culture Conference on Saturday, and Tranny Roadshow Saturday night.
“The goal of the conference is to have fun parts like the drag show and informational aspects like the conference,” stated GLOW president Sara Bernstein.
The drag show was held in Riverview Lounge and featured acts such as Gus Christensen’s drunk “Titney Spears” impersonation; a “Napoleon Dynamite” skit done by Davis Hudson, Sara Wexler and Jessie Justmann; a rendition of Gay Pimp’s song “Soccer Practice” done by Christine Whack, Thyo Halorday and Erin Moore; as well as Prince’s “Kiss” by Jamie Gajewski, among many others.
Emily Saltzman and DJ Brengle hosted the show as elderly couple Harry Farts and Myrtle.
Sophomore Nora Taylor remarked, “I really liked that the performers this year were solely from Lawrence and that there weren’t outside performances like last year.”
After including outside performers in last year’s performance that weren’t as well received, Bernstein said, “GLOW has decided to keep the performance in the family from now on.”
Saturday night’s “Tranny Roadshow” consisted of a four-person cast. They created a multimedia performance in which they read poems, performed music, and had artwork set up around the room.
Not all the acts were about being transgender. Some were about topics such as child abuse and transitioning.
“A lot of people are confused by transgender so we thought it would be good for the community to be able to see this performance,” said Bernstein.
The Queer Culture Conference took place all day Saturday, with talks given exclusively by Lawrence University students and professors.
“A lot of people don’t understand queer culture and that it is different in every country, so we wanted to talk very generally about the subject so that we could educate those that are curious,” Bernstein said.
One of the talks, titled “Constructing Masculinity in the Nineteenth Century American West: Sir William Drummond Stewart,” was given by Monica Rico, Assistant Professor of History.
The talk was about a somewhat-known author in the 19th century named Sir William Drummond Stewart that wrote several novels about the Old West.
One novel centers on a “berdache,” a term used to describe a Native American believed to contain the spirits of both sexes, and another tells of a male lead character falling in love with another man he meets, who later turns out to be a woman.
These two novels opened up ideas for the Old West as an open area for queer space, and the idea that male masculinity in the west was more complicated than previously thought.
“Queer culture was never known to be there before because it was only recently that people developed the critical acuity to look for it,” stated Rico.
The final talk of the day was a panel on queer cultures and studying abroad. The talk included French professors Judy Sarnecki and Eilene Hoft-March as well as students Brandon Husband and Justin Severson.
Sarnecki and Hoft-March discussed queer culture in France and its differences from queer culture in the United States, and also how queer culture is very different everywhere you go.
Hoft-March reiterated that the French mentality toward sexuality is that it is a personal and not a political matter.
Severson discussed his personal experiences in Nantes, France, and Husband discussed Amsterdam’s policies on queer life. Severson discussed what life was like being gay in a big city as well as abroad.
He described what it was like learning the social codes of France and how people he met abroad responded to him.
Husband discussed how Amsterdam was the first country to grant legal gay marriage in 2001 while they already had legal gay civil unions, and how the youth in Amsterdam take the progressiveness of their country for granted.
He said that their progressive ideas come from the Dutch idea, “If what you do doesn’t affect me then I don’t care.”
“I thought the conference was well done overall; they had a variety of different speakers from many different perspectives,” recalled freshman Elliot Cairns.
“I really enjoyed the talk given by Professor Rico because it made me question what masculinity really meant,” he said.
“I wish more people would have been interested or given it a chance, because I personally think they missed out.”
The conference was well received overall and GLOW is excited to present another one next year.