October 01, 2010

‘Looking Beyond the Letters’ is GLBT Month theme

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- “Looking Beyond the Letters” is both the theme and the goal of the GLBT History Month 2010 celebration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“Often individuals are nervous about seeing what lies beyond those letters – ‘G,’ ‘L,’ ‘B’ and ‘T.’ This year we are taking a step beyond to educate and inform the SIUC community of some of the issues of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community. I encourage everyone to come out for these activities,” said Devin Moran, a graduate assistant with Student Development and graduate student in educational administration and higher education from Lexington, Ky.

Numerous special activities commemorating GLBT History Month at SIUC will kick off with a Community Pride Picnic on Saturday, Oct. 2. During the following weeks, a variety of special activities, programs and guest speakers will raise awareness, enhance understanding and bring together diverse peoples.

“GLBT History Month is important because it brings attention to and educates us about an often ignored, misunderstood and disparaged culture within our community of cultures at SIUC. It highlights the fact and helps us to see that beneath the labels and fears and the similarities and differences, we are all Salukis,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services.

Among the highlights of the history month is a presentation by the programs director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “Erasing Hate: A Community Discussion with Thomas B. Howard Jr.” is set for Oct. 21 at Morris Library. Named for the young man savagely killed in Wyoming because he was gay, the Foundation (www.matthewshepard.org/) fights bigotry and hate.

Howard’s work includes outreach to high schools and colleges, assisting with productions of “The Laramie Project”, assisting with the Small Bear Big Dreams educational program, overseeing MatthewsPlace.com and assisting those who contact the Foundation for information. People can also view “The Laramie Project,” a film featuring interview reenactments with people from Laramie, Wyo., talking about the 1998 assault and death of Shepard, during six October shows at the Varsity Center for the Arts.

“Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask: Defining and understanding GLBTQQIA” is a panel discussion that will give you the opportunity to talk with members of the local gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, genderqueer, intersex, transsexual and questioning community and their allies and find out more about the terminology and everything else you might ponder. Virginia Dicken, coordinator of the GLBT Resource Center at SIUC, will be the moderator for the Oct. 18 event, part of “Ally Week,” which is Oct. 17-23.

“I think it is important to attend the GLBT History Month’s events because we need to know where our country has been to get our country to where it should be. We need to create an environment where there is an understanding of GLBT challenges and discuss ways in which individuals and communities can support those people,” said Julia Garleb, a graduate student in educational administration and higher education from Valmeyer.

Films, discussions, training sessions, a game night, tailgating and much more are part of the month’s lineup. The GLBT History Month 2010 schedule at SIUC includes:

Oct. 2

• Community Pride Picnic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Church of the Good Shepherd, 515 S. Orchard Drive, Carbondale. This is a community-wide picnic for GLBT people and friends featuring games, musical performances, food, competitions, door prizes, information tables and visits by community leaders.

Oct. 3

• L(gbt)eadership Retreat, 1-6 p.m. This event is open to all GLBT supportive students. For more information, including location and other details, contact the GLBT Resource Center at 618/453-5627 or by e-mail at glbtrc@siu.edu.

Oct. 6

• “Further Off the Straight and Narrow: New Gay Visibility on Television 1998-2006,” 7 p.m., Student Center, Kaskaskia/Missouri Room. This program studies the increased prevalence of GLBT characters in various television programming in recent years and how the characters are more complex and varied.

Oct. 7

• “Acts of God,” noon, Student Center, Kaskaskia Room. A panel of clergy offer their thoughts on various questions like “Are natural disasters God’s punishment?”

Oct. 8

• “The Laramie Project” play, 7:30 p.m., Varsity Center for the Arts. This performance uses interview reenactments to tell the story of the vicious hate crime assault in Laramie, Wyo., on Matthew Shepard resulting in the death of the young gay man. Jennifer Caudell and Sarah Dubach are directing the Stage Company’s production that opens the community theater’s 29th season. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. For details and ticket information visit the website at www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 9

• SIUC Homecoming parade GLBT participation, 8-9 a.m. is lineup and 9:30 a.m. is parade start with the GLBT community and allies participating with the Saluki Rainbow Network and friends.

• GLBTailgate, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saluki Row. The GLBT Resource Center is sponsoring this fourth annual tailgate event with food, freebies (including a commemorative color-change cup) and fun.

• “The Laramie Project,” 7:30 p.m. performance, Varsity Center for the Arts, www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 10

• “The Laramie Project,” 2 p.m. play, Varsity Center for the Arts, www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 11

• National Coming-Out Day observance, commemorating Oct. 11, 1987, when about 500,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., for gay and lesbian equality. At SIUC, the commemoration is marked with Shirts and Sharpies all day long. GLBT people and allies will wear plain white shirts marked “I’m Out” or “Ally” and others can show their support by adding words of encouragement on the shirts.

Oct. 13

• Identities Film Fest, 6-8 p.m., Parkinson Hall, Browne Auditorium. The Saluki Rainbow Network is hosting this showing of a few short films and discussion of the GLBT identities they feature.

Oct. 15

• “The Laramie Project,” 7:30 p.m. play, Varsity Center for the Arts, www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 16

• Southern Illinois AIDS Walk and Health Fair, noon, Newman Center, 715 S. Washington St. This is an event raising awareness about HIV and AIDS in Southern Illinois. The fair begins at noon and the walk at 1 p.m. Funds will help support the Southern Illinois AIDS Holiday Project. Individuals and groups can sign up to participate online at www.carbondaleaidswalk.org. For more information, contact Wally Paynter at 812/480-0204 or via e-mail at wallypaynter@aol.com.

• “The Laramie Project,” 7:30 p.m. play, Varsity Center for the Arts, www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 17

• “The Laramie Project,” 2 p.m. play, Varsity Center for the Arts, www.stagecompany.org.

Oct. 18

• “Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask: Defining and understanding GLBTQQIA,” 7 p.m., Student Center, Ohio Room. During a panel discussion you can learn more about a variety of terms that fall under one umbrella: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, genderqueer, intersex, transsexual, questioning and ally. Panelists from the area will describe their sexual and gender identities and answer audience questions.

Oct. 20

• Safe Zone Training, 4:30-6 p.m., Student Center, Mackinaw Room. This national training workshop gives information on how to be a supportive ally to GLBT students and colleagues. Participants completing the training can become a “Safe Zone” member and display an SIUC Safe Zone triangle placard.

Oct. 21

• Erasing Hate: A Community Discussion with Thomas B. Howard Jr., 7 p.m., Morris Library, John C. Guyon Auditorium. According to FBI estimate, there are more than 7,000 hate crimes in the USA each year and this program from the Matthew Shepard Foundation explores the role hate plays in everyday life and how people contribute or fail to act to change it.

Oct. 22

• Game night, 7 p.m., Student Center, video lounge. Teams from SIUC and SIU Edwardsville will battle in this test of skill and wits with prizes for the winners.

Oct. 25

• “Toilet Training,” 7-9 p.m., Student Center, video lounge. Transgender video maker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a group fighting to end poverty and gender identity discrimination, created this documentary video addressing discrimination, harassment and violence that those who don’t fit gender norms face with gender segregated bathrooms.

Oct. 27

• Toilet Training Part II: Discussion and Follow-up, 6 p.m., Student Center auditorium. This is a discussion further exploring the thoughts and issues raised by the documentary the night before. Labeled restrooms force some people to make uncomfortable choices that can result in harassment and even violence.

Oct. 29

• Lavender Lattes: Looking Beyond, noon-1 p.m., Student Center, Mississippi Room. Enjoy coffee and conversation about GLBTQ research ongoing in Southern Illinois. Professors and graduate students from various disciplines will discuss their work.

Nov. 12

• Drag Show, 7-9 p.m., Student Center, Ballroom D. Doors open at 6 p.m. for this popular annual show. More details coming soon.

“I think it is important to celebrate GLBT history because it gives people an understanding of the lifestyle and the struggles we go through as part of the GLBT community. I think when people don’t have knowledge of the GLBT community it keeps us in this cycle where rights such as marriage are denied. I feel that the more people see we are similar to them, the more they will open up to our lifestyle,” said Yemisi Pleasant, an undergraduate early childhood major from Chicago.

Sponsors of GLBT History Month include Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, GLBT Resource Center, Office of the Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity, Saluki Rainbow Network, The Women’s Center and Varsity Center for the Arts.

“Sometimes in order to better understand a culture, we need to interact with that culture. Attending events like these can provide an opportunity to experience a culture that we may not have been able to interact with in our own small hometowns,” said Kristian Alton, a master’s graduate student in educational psychology from Clinton, Ky.

For more information, contact Student Development on the third floor of the Student Center, 618/453-5714 or the GLB Resource Center at 618/453-5627.

“I think GLBT Month is an excellent opportunity for the community to explore the GLBT culture. The programs featured throughout the month are entertaining instruments for enlightening individuals about the GLBT community. My goal for GLBT Month is to encourage people to become more accepting of the GLBT community,” said Tai Askew Gibson, a master’s student in accounting from Bowling Green, Ky.