You gotta love a conference with the title Dangerous Desires: Queer Politics in the New Millennium. Nearly as good as the Transgressions and Taboos Conference I attended last year in Puerto Rico.
Organized by Tara James, Associate Director, Women’s History Program, Dangerous Desires is a women’s history conference held every year at Sarah Lawrence College. I presented Talking Trash in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a talk/performance about the “ex-gay” movement with a special emphasis on the experience of some lesbians in “ex-gay” programs. (Thanks to all the women who shared their stories with me!)
Kat Katansis’ moving performance, Cracking Composure. I found myself with a broad smile one moment then moved to tears the next. So much emotion with so few words.
Karen Williams’s POWERFUL paper, Queers in the Criminal Justice System. Shocking the sort of oppression of queer folks, particularly women and people of color, within the criminal injustice system.
Evan Keely’s Fifty-Six Theses a explosively thoughtful listing of reasons for marriage equality for all people. This white straight married male minister with his cute clerical collar read throught 56 pithy points with a dry humor that reminded me of Swift. I told him he has an excellent theater piece on his hands.
Straight Spouse Network–I met Carol Silverman, a board member of the organization “for straight spouses or partners, current or formerr, of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender mates and mixed-orientation couples.” I’ve written about the topic of straight spouses before.
I asked Carol what is important for queer folks to know about straight spouses, especially during the coming out process. She said. Be honest! Don’t drag things out. Let your spouse know as soon as possible where things stand and don’t expect your spouse to get over it right away. It will take some time for the impact of a queer spouse to be fully felt let alone processed.
She also spoke about how tragic it is for a middle-aged spouse to suddenly find out about a queer partner at a time when it is so very difficult to find love again. She said, here you are at 46 or 52 and you have to start life all over again often holding the ball and picking up the pieces. It is just not fair and not easy.
I was impressed at how Carol shared her feelings (pain and anger) without bitterness.
I met Amber Hollibaugh, senior strategist at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. (The same group that just put out Youth in the Crosshairs: The Third Wave of Ex-Gay Activism, a MUST READ for understanding the history and current strategies of “ex-gay” programs.)
I also learned from Ken Schneck about the Vivian Cass Model for developing a positive queer identity. Cass provides six stages to help understand gay and lesbian identity development. Which stage are you at? I think Marvin is at stage one still. I feel liike I am around 5.5.
Really great conference.