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NU student group presents 'Queertopia,''Queergasim'
by Vern Hester
2016-04-26

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On April 16, the Northwestern University Queer Pride Graduate Student Association presented Queertopia 2016 at the Graduate Commons on the Evanston campus. For this ninth edition of the event, titled "Troubling Queerness: New Directions in Queer of Color Critique," the conference addressed the separation of queerness and race, with an emphasis on the anti-Black movement.

The event—co-sponsored by the Northwestern University departments of sociology, gender and sexuality studies, art history and art theory, among others—was organized by Tyrone Palmer and featured keynote speaker Dr. Calvin Warren, assistant professor of American Studies at George Washington University.

With the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality and the widespread visibility and inclusion of queer and transgender people in the public sphere, the question of queer studies has found itself at a crossroads. The conference—which, this year, had a much stronger emphasis on race than in past years—sought to address the extreme levels of violence and poverty at the margins of queerness, particularly with trans people of color.

The eight-hour conference featured four panel presentations that included headings such as "Decolorizing Queerness," "Transformative Directions" and "Relation, Non-Relation: Afro Feminist Perspectives," and were hosted by Northwestern University graduate students ( among them V. Chaudhry ), independent scholars ( William C. Anderson ) and guest scholars from other academic institutions ( such as Duskin Drum of U.C. Davis and James Bliss of University of California-Irvine ).

Two hours after the highly academic Queertopia event came the 7th Annual Queergasim Celebration, which took place at Krause Studio.

The event, which takes a far more artistic and less theoretical view of queer life and expression, featured short films ( from A Joao Queiroga and Rachel Greenhoe ), poetry/spoken word performance ( C. Russell Price, Bea Cordelia, Java Chapa, Quinn Hagerty ), theater ( Grace Hamilton-Vargo and Marin Nass ) and live music ( Alex Benjamin as Wanda Screw, Gina Hayes, and Noah LaPook ). Roger Q. Mason hosted the event.


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