To conclude celebrating the “gayest month of the year,” Sonja Benton, a graduate teaching assistant in the English Department, partnering with the Diversity Awareness Office, LGBTQ Student Support Office and The Women’s Center, held the third annual LGBTQ history event. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, MSU hosted an academic panel in the Procrastinator Theater discussing administrative relations, personal achievements, outdoor life and history regarding the LGBT+ community.
Those involved wanted to explain what the real “gay agenda” is in order to combat faulty accusations. Benton planned the event to educate those on life after coming out. She explained, “What you experience, think and see goes beyond the coming out narrative and includes way more than just sexuality.”
Karen deVries of the University Studies Department and Honors College began the discussion by explaining how using the word queer as an umbrella term, to cover all the other letters in the acronym LGBT+, is a watered-down way of thinking about things. She argued that this completely ignores how the queer ideology aims to break away from normalized patriarchal structures that have been accepted by many societies.
Another presenter from the political science department, Sarah Rushing, Ph.D., built on deVries’ points by defining some of the philosophy behind the ideology. Rushing explained John Mill’s concept that “social tyranny” can be more restrictive than “authoritarian tyranny,” and Michel Foucault’s explanation of resisting the “norms of the normal.”
Dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, Royce Smith, Ph.D. spoke of the personal struggles he faced throughout his career. He urged listeners to ignore the so-called “Pink Ceiling” that keeps those in the community from progressing and instead should “use our stories to thrive instead of attack others.”
Drew Keegan, a graduate assistant representing the LGBTQ student support program, went through his work looking at how the white male identity overwhelms the geography of the wilderness. He examined how the representation of wilderness has been restricted to the white male identity which restricts others to urban spaces. He said, “straight men go to the wilderness to encounter things and prove themselves, while others— women, people of color, gays— go to the wilderness and are afraid to encounter straight white men.”