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22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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, March 25.

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 noted.

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 in general.

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 Dresses

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 identity.

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.

Lunch Break

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.

John Lauritsen

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 as well.

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 halls.

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 are offensive.

Brian Burnham, University of Rhode Island

Noon to 1 p.m.

Lunch Break

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 leaders.

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 Services Education,

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


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