Section: News

ODEI plans a busy October for LGBTQ+ History Month

Sherry Zane presents her research on gender and war. | CHUZHU ZHONG

Offices and student organizations from across campus have come together to organize events in celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) has specifically planned several lectures, workshops and activities throughout October.

On Oct. 4 Sherry Zane, associate director of the women’s gender and sexuality studies program at University of Connecticut,  kicked off the series of events with a presentation titled “Surveilling Sex: FDR and the Section A Crusades, 1919-1923,” where she talked about how gender identity and sexuality shaped the national security state in World War I. She also recounted how, as she researched this topic, she encountered disapproval and difficulties in accessing information. A director of archives, for example, was reluctant to give Zane literature and kept asking her questions about her research.

“This surveillance I was under in the archive while I’m studying this, made me think about the importance of history,” she said during the lecture. “How it’s written, who writes it, what stories we tell, what are the official stories, what archives do we use, how is it remembered and how difficult it is to disrupt these official narratives.” 

This event was followed by a National Coming Out Day lecture by Alex Shanks the following Wednesday. Shanks is a project and field director for Equality Ohio, a nonprofit organization that advocates for fair treatment for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

“We were specifically trying to make sure we were partnering with local and state-wide LGBTQ+ organizations, and so we were really excited to have Equality Ohio on campus for the first time,” Assistant Director of ODEI Timothy Bussey said.

During the lecture, Shanks shared personal anecdotes about coming out and his experience as a transgender man in Ohio.

“I thought it was really empowering,” Ceci Rodriguez ’22 said. “I think there’s something so powerful in hearing other people’s stories, especially me getting a new perspective because I’m bisexual but cis, so I love hearing especially the stories of trans people because it’s something that I can’t personally relate to … and it expands my understanding.”

Later in the month, ODEI will also sponsor students, including co-managers of Unity House James Lituchy ’19 and Grace Harris ’20, attending Equitas Health’s Transforming Care Conference on Oct. 18 and 19 at The Ohio State University. Bussey hopes the event will serve as a professional development exercise and provide more knowledge about LGBTQ+ health that students can bring back to campus.

There will be several more events as part of the ODEI programming, as well as activities planned by student organizations. Unity House, for example, will host an event titled “Cupcakes and Condoms” on Oct. 24, where attendees can design condom wrappers while discussing safer sex methods and enjoying rainbow cupcakes.

The final ODEI-sponsored event will be a transgender history book club on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Lentz House during Common Hour. ODEI and Unity House both expressed a desire to put on programming and events beyond LGBTQ+ History Month.

Bussey added that he was pleased with the attendance at the events held so far and credited this in part to students’ input on the events. He urges students to continue giving ODEI feedback about what events they would like to see ODEI put on.

“We are working to develop more consistent programming for LGBTQ+ topics,” Bussey said. “We are in the midst of LGBTQ+ History Month right now, but more regular and sort of signature programming for queer and trans gender representation on campus is something that’s going to be happening.”

Similarly, Lituchy and Harris emphasized that Unity House is always open to students and will host different events throughout the year. “Keep on the lookout for more programming because there’s always more coming,” Harris said. 

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