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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Queer Culture Week Comes Out to Grinnell

This week marks Queer Cultures Week 2014, hosted by the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) and its various organizations, including Queer People of Color (QPOC), Safe, Sane, Consensual and the Asexual Support Network.

The week was formerly known as Coming-Out Week, but the event organizers wanted to rename it with the hope of being more inclusive.

“We wanted something that was more celebratory, that was more talking about the way that we experience queerness, celebrating the way that we are queer and all of the myriad of forms that people experience their sexuality and experience their gender rather than just kind of having a week where we were just encouraging people to come out of the closet,” said Scott Olson ’15, Manager of the SRC and organizer of the week.

Cookie decorating was among one of many events during Queer Culture Week. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.
Cookie decorating was among one of many events during Queer Culture Week. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.

Drag Show kicked off the week on Saturday night. The performance yielded a great turnout and served as a good start for the events to come.

“[Drag Show is] always a lot of work, but it’s very dear to me,” said Amy Flores ’15, SRC Program Coordinator and fellow organizer of the week. “I was really excited for that and it went well.”

A major theme throughout the week has been intersectionality and many events have focused on the connections between various issues and identities.

On Monday night, the Queer Leadership Council hosted Getting to Know Queer, an interactive workshop that provided historical information about queerness and explored notions of sex, gender and identity.

Programming continued on Tuesday with free HIV testing. On Wednesday night, BDSM blogger, Cliff Pervocracy, continued this trend through his talk about the politics and connections between feminism and BDSM.

“I think it’s important to discuss BDSM and especially its relationship to feminism because I think that relationship is really tricky,” said Alex Ullberg ’17.

Cliff’s presentation focused on the difficulty of navigating the intersection between feminism and BDSM, and how those identities often seem contradictory.

Throughout the week, various groups have also hosted smaller events like film showings and cookie-decorating events.

“Ropes 101” utilizeid hands-on demonstrations to discuss BDSM. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.
“Ropes 101” utilizeid hands-on demonstrations to discuss BDSM. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.

The theme of intersectionality will culminate with a presentation by Lydia Brown today at 7:30 p.m. in JRC 101. Brown, a student at Georgetown University, is a disability rights advocate and queer activist.

“Since this week is under the guise of culture … she’s going to talk a little bit about how queer culture can effect navigating spaces as a person with different ability, different race [and/or] different sexuality from the dominant normative identity. It should be very good and it should cover a lot of things,” Flores said.

Organizers say Brown’s presentation is particularly exciting because she will address identities and intersections that are often overlooked within Grinnell and in larger discussions of sexuality, race and ability.

“We like to have someone who comes to talk about something that doesn’t get talked about a lot and Lydia has a lot of experience in disability advocacy and talking about experiencing sexuality between a binary or outside a binary,” Olson said.

“She’s going to talk about asexuality, which is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot on this campus. Disability and asexuality are things that often get silenced within the broader political movement, [and] also on this campus.”

Besides complimenting the week’s theme of intersectionality, and addressing often-overlooked topics, Brown’s student perspective should be easily accessible for Grinnellians.

“I like that she’s a student, so hopefully she will relate to students here and show [them] that activism can start in school,” Flores said.

Brown’s event promises to be relatable and accessible in other ways as well. Olson stressed that all students are welcome to come regardless of their knowledge of queer or disability theory.

“We try to structure all of our events so that regardless of what kind of classes you’ve taken, regardless of what stuff you’ve read, you will be able to get something out of these events. There is a perception that … [people] can’t really go … unless [they’ve] taken like three GWSS seminars, which is totally not the case,” Olson said.

Above all, the week’s organizers hope to celebrate queer culture and spread awareness of groups and resources on campus.

“[One goal is] getting more people involved in the SRC and making ourselves approachable since our mission is to be a resource. It is important to us to keep on doing these events and making [the week] as useful as possible,” Flores said.

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