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LGBTQA events hope to educate, break down barriers

Alix Olson will be the featured artist at the OUTspoken Queer Open Mic on April 20.

The second annual “Illusions Drag Show” will kick off Lehigh’s celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer and Allied (LGBTQA) Awareness Month on Thursday, April 6.

The drag show, which will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Lamberton Hall, will showcase performances from drag queens and kings from the Lehigh Valley. It is one of a series of events planned by Lehigh’s LGBTQA Programs and Outreach and the student organization Spectrum to promote awareness and understanding.

Other highlights include the “OUTspoken Queer Open Mic” series with featured artist Alix Olson and the “Diverse Sexuality in International Cinema Film Series.” (For a PDF of the film series flier, go here.)

“Our events this year cover a wide array of topics and experiences of the LGBTQA community,” says HollyAnn Slotterback, residence life coordinator and LGBTQA coordinator for internal affairs. “We hope students will come out to the events seeking to learn about and celebrate the diversity of our community and then take what they have learned to educate others.”

Lana Curdgele, community fellow graduate student of political science and LGBTQA graduate assistant coordinator for research and resources, says it is important for Lehigh students to take part in the events.

“Diversity has been a hot topic on our campus this past year, and what we’re doing this month is a part of that,” Curdgele says. “The events we’ve planned offer a great array of opportunities for students to interact with each other and expand their minds.”

Jeff Antsen ’09, a biology and philosophy major and event coordinator for Spectrum, says students who experience new things can learn more about how to understand each other, respect each other’s differences, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

“The best way to make this campus a more diverse place is to experience diversity,” Antsen says. “And this is a great, exciting occasion to do so.”

All donations from the Illusions Drag Show will benefit PRIDE of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Internationally touring folk poet and progressive queer artist-activist Alix Olson will be the featured artist at the OUTspoken Queer Open Mic, which will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in Lamberton Hall. Olson’s performances have been dubbed one part peace vigil, one part protest rally, and one part joyful raucous concert. Guest performers will be encouraged to take the mic throughout the night with their own form of artistic expression.

“Our open mic series, OUTspoken, is a forum for all Lehigh students, as well as Lehigh Valley community members, to come together and share,” Curdgele says. “I hope students enjoy the work of our featured artist Alix Olson, who is amazing, and the talent of those who get up and rock the mic.”

Ultimately, Curdgele says, she hopes that student’s walk away feeling more comfortable around LGBTQA issues, whether that means stopping in the next time they walk by the Rainbow Room to check out their resources or to participate in conversations around campus.

All donations from the OUTspoken Queer Open Mic will benefit HAVEN youth and young adult group.

From Friday, April 14 through Friday, April 21, the Diverse Sexuality in International Cinema Series will feature four international films and an animated short film that explore sexuality, gender identity and expression, and same-sex relationships set in lush locales such as Thailand, India, Spain, and Lebanon. Each film will begin at 8 p.m. and will be shown in Whitaker Hall, room 303.

Matt Malouf, a first-year counseling psychology doctoral student and LGBTQA graduate assistant coordinator for programming, says that almost everyone has been in the minority at some point in their lives. So he hopes that those attending the film series can relate their own experiences to those of the individuals portrayed in the films, even if they are from a different group.

“While gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other means of labeling oneself all have different impacts on individuals and are understood differently,” he says, “there are similarities between how these understandings are gained and the ways in which the status of having a minority identity situate us in relation to others.”

The Diverse Sexuality in International Cinema Series schedule is as follows:

Opening Reception
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 14
Whitaker Hall, Room 303

“Beautiful Boxer”
8 p.m. Friday, April 14
Whitaker Hall, Room 303
Based on the true story of Thailand’s famed transgender kickboxer, “Beautiful Boxer” is a poignant action drama that punches straight into the heart and mind of a boy who fights like a man so he can become a woman.

“The Journey”
8 p.m. Tuesday, April 18
Whitaker Hall, Room 303
In an idyllic Indian village, two lifelong friends fall in love, but their lesbian relationship creates a scandal in the community and a new journey begins.

“My Mother Likes Women”
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 19
Whitaker Hall, Room 303
“My Mother Likes Women” is a staccato-paced Spanish language comedy about three sisters whose lives are thrown off kilter by their mother’s sudden sexual awakening and the introduction of her new lover, a native Czech, a brilliant pianist and a woman who is nearly their age.

“With What Shall I Wash” (short film) and “Yossi and Jagger”
8 p.m. Friday, April 21
Whitaker Hall, Room 303
In “With What Shall I Wash,” a transwoman ends her day reminiscing about her great love and about her life working in a red light district in Spain. Set to an aria by an unknown composer, this beautifully animated short is an homage to all homosexual artists of the 20th century.
“Yossi and Jagger” is based on a true story about two men, both Israeli army officers serving in Lebanon. The two have a secret affair that adds further complication to life in the remote base in which they serve.


Lehigh University’s LGBTQA Awareness Month events are sponsored by ArtsLehigh, Black Student Union, Department of Education and Human Services, Department of English, Global Union, Greek Leadership Development, Leadership Lehigh, LGBTQA Programs and Outreach, Office of Dean of Students, Office of the First Year Experience, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of Student Activities, Professor Henry Baird, Residence Life Diversity Committee, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Spectrum, Student Affairs, Student Senate, University Productions, Women’s Center and Women’s Studies.

To learn more about LGBTQA Awareness Month events or Lehigh’s LGBTQA Programs and Outreach, visit the LGBTQA Web site, e-mail the Rainbow Room or call (610) 758-4126.

—Sarah Cooke

Posted on Wednesday, April 05, 2006

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