Spirituality, Campus, and Community
Symposium on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender
Issues to be held at URI March 22-25, 2000
KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 10, 2000 -- The sixth annual
symposium on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues will be held
at the University of Rhode Island from Wednesday, March 22 to Saturday,
The annual symposium, coordinated by the URI Committee to Eliminate Heterosexism
and Homophobia, is known as one of the most progressive conferences in New
England as it promotes understanding and appreciation of human differences
while providing an outlet for education at no cost to attendees.
Visitors are welcome to attend any session. The conference is free and
open to the public. Student organizations, groups, and individuals are welcome
to attend. No registration is necessary. Visitors are required to obtain
a visitor's parking pass from the URI Information Center on Upper College
Road during the day.
Christian de la Huerta, this year's keynote speaker, will kick off the
symposium. He is founder and executive director of Q-Spirit, an international
network of gay spirituality. His book, Coming Out Spirituality, has
been called Jerry Falwell's worst nightmare.
Thought-provoking topics range from Scouting for "Scouting
for All: Committed to Scouting, Open to Diversity", to "Gay? Oy
Vey! A Journey toward the GLS and the Jewish Community" to "The
Trouble with 'Normal' Gay Marriages."
This year's symposium facilitators are URI graduate student Andrea
Herrmann and Andrew Winters, both of URI's Housing and Residential Life.
The following is a complete schedule of events. Printed copies as well
as information on local accommodations are available by calling 401-874-5162.
Schedule of Events
Events will be held in the Memorial Union Atrium I unless otherwise
Wednesday, March 22
7 p.m. Coming Out Spiritually
Christian de la Huerta
Multicultural Center Forum Room
Christian de la Huerta, the founder of Q-Spirit, gives the keynote presentation.
He synthesizes the 10 spiritual roles or archetypes queer people have often
assumed and continue to enact today: creator of beauty, consciousness scout,
mediator, shaman, and healer, among others. Drawing on these models while
acting as a guide to the queer community, de la Huerta shows the LGBT community
how to look deeper inside; to reach higher than ever before; to step forth
more fully into their rightful selves.
Thursday, March 23
9 a.m. -9:30 a.m.
Welcome, Introductions and Announcements
9:30 a.m. -10:45 a.m.
One Thousand Years of Silence: Rehabilitating Medieval (Homo) sexuality
This presentation examines medieval homosexuality, by first using texts
to uncover the hidden language of pre-modern homosexuals, delving into contemporary
accounts of famous medieval homosexuals, looking at homosocial and homoerotic
literature from the time, and examining the subjugation of women's sexuality
Michael Cornelius, University of Rhode Island
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Options for Progress
This workshop will define the stages that "straight" persons
go through as they develop an understanding and awareness of LGBT issues.
In addition, the presenters will offer and discuss purposeful interventions-individual,
small group, and institutional-which can help people progress through the
stages. The overall goal of the presenters is to help participants become
advocates for issues regarding sexual orientation, and to see the commonalties
between homophobia and other societal oppressions, such as racism and sexism.
Christine Wilson and Gail Gibbs, University of Rhode Island
12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Lunch Break
2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
A Spiritual View of Transgenderism: Womanhood is More Than Wearing
For the male-to-female transsexual, the emphasis tends toward visual
appearance. The focus is on energy in learning how to dress, apply makeup,
and create a passable female presentation. Society dwells on outward appearance
as well. Whether people consider this behavior deviant or merely amusing,
many cannot comprehend the notion that the physical being of the person
before their eyes does not agree with that person's innate gender identity.
A far more complex, and much more satisfying, goal than dressing like a
woman or looking like a woman is being a woman. The author will discuss
the significance of transpeople and their spiritual roles in other cultures,
and how her own spiritual journey was enabled once she embraced her gender
Michela Lauren, Gender Education Research Library (GERL)
3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Scouting For All: Committed to Scouting, Open to Diversity
This presentation introduces Scouting For All, a group dedicated to fighting
the anti-gay stance of the Boy Scouts of America. The presenter will examine
the Boy Scouts of America and their policies; examine recent events, court
cases and important figures in the fight to remove anti-gay scouting regulations;
discuss hypocrisy within the BSA organization, scout oath and law; and provide
information on how individuals can assist with change efforts.
Scott Pusillo, Scouting For All
Friday, March 24
10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Gay? Oy Vey! A Journey toward the GLS and the Jewish Community
This presentation will deal with the "twice blessed" identities
of being Jewish and gay. Some of the issues that will be explored include
coming out to Jewish parents; the opinions of rabbis; anti-Semitism in the
LGBT community; and the shadows of the Holocaust.
Captain (RES) Avner Even-Zohar, MA
11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Women Warming a Chilly Climate
Some people feel that URI offers a chilly climate to women in general
and to lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in particular. The Women's
Center is committed to warming that climate. This presentation will examine
what other college and university women's centers are doing for LBT women
to make them feel more understood, recognized and accepted, and then discuss
what options could be initiated on-campus to achieve the goal of warming
a chilly climate.
Pam Downey, University of Rhode Island
Noon to 1 p.m.
1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Gay Liberation and Humanism
In the history of the homosexual emancipation movement, different stances
have been taken toward the prevailing religions. Some pioneers attacked
Judeo-Christian sexual morality, while others endeavored to make alliances
with liberal clergymen, and downplayed the antagonism between homosexual
activity and scripture. However, the human problem remains: how can gay
people fulfill their spiritual needs and find fellowship, when they stand
rejected by the traditions in which they were raised? This presentation
examines the opinion of Unitarian Universalism, which has no fixed dogma,
and accepts both humanists and gay people.
2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Conducting Intergroup Dialogue: Creating an Environment in Which We Can
Listen and Learn from Each Other's Experiences
This workshop is designed to introduce educators to the concept of intergroup
dialogue. This pedagogical method is used to help individuals of different
social groups discuss their experiences as members of those particular identities.
The process of understanding one's own, and other's experiences, acts as
a pedagogical tool to encourage empathy and bridge building across differences.
Participants will leave with a general understanding of the benefits of
conducting dialogues across differences, as well as some "how-to"
tips about creating an environment in which a dialogue can occur.
Linda McCarthy and Susie Mitton, Social Justice Education Program,
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Attitudes Toward the Holocaust and Sexuality as a Defining Trait: The
Sabras Character in Israeli Cinema
This presentation features an analysis of the character of the Sabras
(Jewish native Israeli born) in Israeli culture focusing on their sexuality
and attitudes towards the Holocaust and its survivors, with emphasis on
major, crucial points in Israeli history.
Captain (RES) Avner Even-Zohar, MA
4 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.
The Trouble with 'Normal' Gay Marriages
The presenter will examine Michael Warner's 1999 text "The Trouble
with Normal," which is against the legalization of gay marriage. The
presenter will explore the reasons that Warner submits which leads Warner
to his "controversial" position, and a demonstration of how many
of Warner's claims could also be applied to the notion of heterosexual marriage
W.S. Hampl, University of Rhode Island
Saturday, March 25
10 a.m. to 10:25 a.m.
Coming Out as a Gay Adolescent
This presenter offers his perspective on outing himself to his local
community and his survival story as a homosexual youth. While attending
high school, the presenter was routinely harassed and avoided by his peers
because it became known that he was gay. In his presentation, he will discuss
many memorable experiences, including speaking at the Rhode Island Statehouse.
Joe Godino, University of Rhode Island
10:25 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Out on Staff
This presenter will describe his experiences as an openly gay resident
assistant, examine experiences with staff members and with residents, and
offer recommendations on creating more comfortable climates in residence
Kevin DeJesus, Resident Assistant, Rhode Island College
11 a.m. to noon
Sick of It All
This interactive discussion will address the issues of campus leaders
acting as role models in all facets of diversity, how to address personal
beliefs and feelings that may differ from those on campus, and what leaders
can do to help others be more understanding of diversity without lecturing.
NOTE: Participants will be asked to put aside their "political
correctness" to share their true feelings, beliefs, fears and misunderstandings
in order for us to learn from each other. This may result in comments that
Brian Burnham, University of Rhode Island
Noon to 1 p.m.
1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Synergizing the Positive Community: What Do We Have? What Do We Want?
What's the Difference?
How do students get more excited and involved on campus? At the core
of this program is "the goal of creating an environment where all members
feel ownership where they are allowed to define themselves, where members
feel valued, essential, and responsible to each other. Where members partake
and contribute according to needs, desires and gifts." A discussion
to discover ways of ensuring that community members are getting as much
out of their communities and experiences as they possibly can.
Shawn M. McGuirk, Educational Trainer/Consultant, Climb Higher
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Gays and Straights- Building Bridges and Networks on College Campuses
As colleges and universities continue to try to diversify the student
populations on their campuses reflecting both the changing ethnic demographics
and sexual orientations of the general population, it becomes clear through
a variety of incidents that occur on our campuses that everyone is not ready
or able to embrace differences. It will be the focus of the presenters to
engage the audience in understanding the importance of building networks
and bridges with faculty, staff and students in their respective communities.
Milva McGhee-Alford and Maureen Sullivan, Rhode Island School of Design
3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Who Leaders Are: What Leaders Do!!
In this workshop, participants will discover who leaders are (their values
and beliefs-the reasons for following them) and then take a look at what
leaders do (breaking paradigms, empowering and motivating others, creating
vision and involvement, effectively communicating, and rewarding and recognizing
effort-the evidence for continually following them). Participants will be
able to determine for themselves how their behaviors and actions can truly
influence those around them, and how they can help others become outstanding
Shawn M. McGuirk, Educational Trainer/Consultant, Climb Higher
Co-sponsors of this year's symposium are URI's Department
of Housing and Residential Life, Multicultural Center, URI Gay, Lesbian
and Straight Society, Multicultural Center Faculty Fellows Program, Campus
Life, Graduate Student Association, Office of Student Life, Counseling Center,
President's Office, Sociology Department, URI Alumni Association, Health
University College/New Student Programs, Uhuru SaSa, Printing Services,
Postal Services, Health Services, and Resident Assistant Board of Advisors.
For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116