June 9, 1997

'Queering the South' connects

academics, activists and artists

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered academics, activists and artists don't always move in circles as distinct as they appear. That's one of the reasons why, two-and-a-half years ago, Donna Smith and other Emory graduate students in lesbian/gay/ bisexual studies came up with the idea for "Queering the South," a gathering to be held at Emory June 25-27. The conference will bring together representatives from each of these groups to focus on how living in the South shapes lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender experiences.

"We usually characterize activism, art and scholarship as very separate activities," said Smith. "In our experience, they aren't. For instance, scholars here at Emory had to do the activisim to make a space for queer studies to be accepted as valid scholarship, and that's probably true of all academies."

The conference is timed to coincide with Atlanta's annual Lesbian/Gay Pride celebration the weekend of June 28 in order to appeal to a broader audience than normally finds their way to conferences held on college campuses.

Most lectures and events will be held in the law school building or in Glenn Auditorium. Mornings and afternoons will be devoted to panel discussions, while evening programs will feature entertainment, readings and keynote addresses by award-winning novelist and playwright Jim Grimsley and activist Pat Hussain. Grimsley is the author of the books My Drowning, Winter Birds and Dream Boy. He is playwright-in-residence at the 7 Stages Theater and has recently written a series of essays for the Southern Voice newspaper.

Pat Hussain is cofounder of Olympics Out of Cobb, the group that succeeded in convincing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move Olympic venues away from Cobb County, which passed an anti-gay resolution before the Games. An activist for more than 20 years, Hussain coauthored a book about the experience, Olympics Out of Cobb: Spiked!.

Panel topics include "Sex, Smashing and Storyville: Reexamining the Lesbian Continuum in Turn-of-the-Century New Orleans," an examination of race and gender in lesbian relationships; "The Homophobia of the Neo-Confederate Movement," presented by "Crawfish," an anonymous activist who monitors the neo-confederate movement; "Strategies for Organizing: Rural Areas and Small Towns," from members of the Georgia Equity Project; "The Legal Battle for Equal Family Rights in the South," a workshop by Michael Adams of the American Civil Liberties Union; and presentations on the works of Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor. There will be more than 25 panel discussions during the conference.

All daytime events are free; donations will be requested at evening performances and events. For information, call 727-4367 or send an e-mail to <qtsmail@learnlink. emory.edu>.

-Stacey Jones

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