Friday, March 5, 2010

Gender Outlaws, Wannabes and Perplexities

An LGBTQ eye on the week ahead.

If the world was really as simple as the fundamentalist Bible thumpers claim it should be most of us would not be annoyed by them. But god makes more than just straight people of two sexes. He uses an infinitely variable palette of possibilities, not just male and female.

In the coming days, several of these will be discussed at the Queer Summit at Williams College, showcased at a national sculpture exhibit curated by Pittsfield's Leslie Ferrin and the focus of exploration at the Mass. College of Liberal Arts who welcomes "gender outlaw" performer Kate Bornstein to the Berkshires.


As surely as night follows day, informal pizza will follow the more serious working sessions.

More than a hundred students from colleges throughout the region are expected to converge on Williamstown tomorrow to participate in a "Queer Summit" organized by Justin Adkins, Williams College, and a group of hard working volunteers.

The purpose is to enable LGBTQ students to network and to discuss the successes and challenges of being LGBTQ identified at small colleges in New England.

It starts off at 10 am with two sessions: How do you do what you do in your student group? What are the goals and are they being met? How do we face criticism and grow as an organization? A breakout session for LGBTQ directors and staff advisers
looks at supporting and advising students without taking over.

After lunch, the gathering will explore the different ways of constructing identities and how best to incorporate them into activism and community building.

Beginning at 2:30We the summit will look at policies affecting LGBTQ students and how to make institutional changes. What are the methods that have worked and what are the ones that haven? At 3 there will be an opportunity for smaller focused discussion, including LGBTQ within athletics, QPOC, and queer students abroad.

Following the work sessions, the students will gather for a Pizza Dinner and Meet and Greet featuring DJs Nordia & Krystal. We wish the participants a positive and productive day!


Kate Bornstein's book is a good read.

Issues of sexual preference, gender identity and self identification will be explored through a performance by author and “gender outlaw” Kate Bornstein on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center. A former heterosexual male who now is a lesbian woman, Bornstein is an author, playwright, performance artist and gender theorist who incorporates cultural criticism, dramatic writing and autobiography to make her point that gender is a cultural rather than a natural phenomenon.

Using slam poetry, Bornstein performs several monologues from the plays and other performance art she has written and performed over the years. Audiences might see her cranky eighth grade teacher, a drag queen who is dying of AIDS or her mother talking about the day she discovered her son was undergoing a sex change.

The event is sponsored by the Mass College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and theMCLA Women's Center (413-662-5497.)

“This year, it’s a very special celebration because it is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8,” said Susan Birns, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work at MCLA and the director of the College’s Susan B. Anthony Women’s Center. “Kate will perform what she calls ‘Postmodern Gender 101’ with a comic twist. She performs and speaks this piece in the unique style she calls ‘edutainment.’”

Sponsored jointly by MCLA and Williams College, Bornstein will perform “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.” The Women’s History Month event is free and open to all.


Seen here: Tip Toland's Tender Flood (Detail). 2010. Ceramic.

Tonight in Philadelphia the Wexler Gallery opens The Hermaphrodites: Living In Two Worlds. There is an online portfolio you can view. This unusual and provocative exhibit is curated by Leslie Ferrin from Pittsfield's Ferrin Gallery. We can only hope that many elements of this breathtaking exhibition might return to her gallery in the Berkshires following this showing. She has shown some of these artists previously, but this grouping is especially strong.

Chris Antemann, "Wardrobe." Ceramic. 18 x 12 x 8 in.

Ferrin's group show of figural ceramic sculpture embodies the literal definition of hermaphrodites as encompassing both genders. Such art is sometimes found in early societies but is rarely seen in contemporary art. The Hermaphrodites: Living In Two Worlds coincides with the 44th annual National Council for Education on the Ceramic Arts Conference (NCECA) in Philadelphia (March 31-April 3, 2010).

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