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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Gay marriage topic at URI conference on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & questioning issues

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 3, 2004 -- While same sex couples flock to Massachusetts, New York, and Californian to marry, President George Bush has announced an initiative to create a Constitutional amendment blocking gay marriage.

Seth Kilbourn, national field director of the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest gay and lesbian organization with more than 500,000 members, will speak at the University of Rhode Island about the controversy and about building a majority for equality. He will speak on Friday, March 26 in the Edwards Auditorium at 7 p.m. Prior to his talk, same sex marriage will be discussed in open forum.

Kilbourn is a featured speaker at URI's 10th annual conference on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning issues to be held March 25, 26, and 27 at URI's Kingston campus. All of the talks and discussions during the conference are free and open to the public, including a performance by the Providence Gay Men's Chorus and the Rhode Island Feminist Voices.

Kilbourn leads a team of six field organizers in building a grassroots movement to accomplish the Human Rights Campaign's legislative, political and electoral goals. The field team is responsible for building the campaign's nationwide Action Network as well as providing information, training and support to state and local groups, constituency groups and leaders on state legislation, ballot initiatives and other efforts.

The keynote speaker for the conference, entitled "Remembering Our Past, Embracing the Present, Creating Our Future" is David Cicilline who was elected mayor of Providence in 2003. Cicilline, the only openly gay mayor of a state capital city in the U.S., will speak in Edwards Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25. In the year since he took office, Mayor Cicilline, a former criminal defense and civil rights attorney, has eliminated a $60-million deficit, cut costs, expanded revenues, and made substantial reforms.

For the most up-to-date information call 401-874-2894.

The schedule of events follows:

Thursday, March 25, Galanti Lounge, 3rd Floor, University Library
9-9:25 a.m. Welcome

9:30 -10:15 a.m. "The Disappearance: Lesbian Feminism in Queer Theory"
Margaret (Peg) Cruikshank, University of Maine; University of Southern Maine.
Early in the formation of GLBT studies, lesbian feminists played a central role. Today their profile is much lower. This talk will explore several reasons for this shift and ask if lesbian feminism and queer theory can peacefully co-exist.

10:20-11 a.m."Queering Prison Abolition," Jason L. Mallory, Binghamton University.
This talk will explore the connections between queer activism and prison advocacy. While prisoner rights movements have been critical of racism, sexism, and classism within the prison system, there has not been enough discussion of the role of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in the prison crisis, according to Mallory.

11:05-11:50 a.m. "Deciphering AIDS in the (Published) Letters of Caio Fernando Abreu," Alberto S. Galindo, Princeton University.
Understanding the letters of gay Brazilian writer, Caio Fernando Abreu, requires readers to examine the private and public map of gay Sao Paulo.

Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-2:10 p.m. "Triple Jeopardy and Beyond: Multiple Minority Stress and Resilience Among Black Lesbians" URIís Lisa Bowleg, Amy Black, Kelly Brooks, and Jennifer Huang.
The presentation, based on a qualitative study of back lesbians, explores the concept of "triple jeopardy" and multiple stresses that black lesbians experience due to their race, sexual orientation and sex. Also investigated are unique and creative means of resilience in the face of these stresses.

2:15-2:55 p.m. "African American Lesbians and the Psychosocial Benefits and Costs of Coming Out" URIís Lisa Bowleg and Melynda L. Craig.
Research has demonstrated, using predominantly white, middle-class samples, a relationship between greater degrees of outness and lower psychological distress and higher self-esteem. African American and other people of color are less likely to be out. The current study examined whether coming out should be a goal people of color and what it means to be black, lesbian, out and in good mental health.

3-3:40 p.m. "If Mom's "Happy-Ever-After" Means Being a Lesbian, What Happened to the Family?" Carole Seeley, Northern Arizona University
In the past, womenís identities were socially-constructed by a heterosexist paradigm; we are presently discovering our lesbian selves and what that means to our families; we look forward to a future in which we are free to claim identities that are uniquely our own as both lesbians and mothers. Can "happy-ever-after" for mom co-exist with happiness for her children? Seeley asks.

3:45-4:25p.m. "Cruising the Web," URI's Olivier "Michael" L. Vocino.
Discussion and brief demonstration of the depth and breadth of Internet sites available on GLBT issues, including those posted by governments, non-profits, news agencies, businesses and, of course, churches and individuals. Suggestions on who to contact to create and post a gay-related site.

7 p.m.: David N. Cicilline, Mayor of Providence, Keynote Speaker
Edwards Auditorium, reception Multicultural Center.

Friday, March 26: Galanti Lounge, 3rd Floor, University Library

10-10:55 a.m. "Screw the System-Get Your Finances Straight," Mac Cunningham, ESPRIT Enterprises; Sandy Reynolds, Pride Planners.
In a legal system that does not afford equal opportunity, learn strategies to cope with financial dilemmas. This presentation will identify the financial disparities that exist for GLBT people and suggest ways to maximize financial options.

11-11:55 a.m. "Is There Life After the Personal Ads? LGBTQ Press Now and in the Future," Sally Ann Hay, Options Newsmagazine; Peter Cassels, Bay Windows; Fred Kuhr, In Newsweekly; and Michael Guy, Options Newsmagazine.
A panel of LGBT journalists will discuss challenges of competing with the ever-changing world of electronic communication, meeting the needs of a diverse readership and meeting the threat of obsolescence as mainstream outlets increase their coverage of LGBT issues.

Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-2:25 p.m. "The Lesbian Avengers Transform "Lesbian Chic" into "Lesbian Activist Chic," Dawn Walsh, Sarah Lawrence College.
The Lesbian Avengers formed as a direct-action group in 1992. They arose during the cultural phenomenon of "lesbian chic." At the height of this phenomenon, which has been criticized for its titillating images of stereotypically feminine women posing as faux lesbians, the Avengers create their own activist version of "lesbian chic."

2:30-3:25 p.m. "Bears: A Personal Scrapbook, a Worldwide Community," Ron Suresha, Providence, R.I.
The genesis of the Bear subculture will be explored from its roots in a small gay/bi menís community in 1980s San Francisco to its current semistructured network of social clubs. Information is presented from local communities in the U.S. and Canada.

3:30-4:25 p.m. Open Forum: Discussion of Same Sex Marriage

7 p.m. "Counting Votes: Building a Majority for GLBT Equality"
Edwards Auditorium. Featured Speaker: Seth Kilbourn, National Field director, Human Rights Campaign.
8 p.m. Concert, Edwards Auditorium. Features Providence Gay Menís Chorus and Rhode Island Feminist Voices. Reception in Multicultural Center.

Saturday, March 27, Multicultural Center

Student panels and entertainment

10-11:55 a.m. "Partners": Open Discussion on Queer Relationships

Noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-3:30 p.m. "Queer Activism Beyond Marriage, Bisexual Perspectives"

7:30-8:30 p.m. Open Mike

9 p.m.-1 a.m. Dance