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Friday, October 24, 2014

OSU Pride Center activism 'Queering the Archive'

It occurred to me in a dream last night that "queer theory" is like research on Einstein's unified general theory of relativity, because it is embraced by theoretical physicists and mathematicians, but ignored as being only an intellectual curiosity by mainstream scientists and engineers who are usually focused on making discoveries or inventions that real people can understand, feel, or touch. In my dream I also saw the two academic camps of "social constructionists" vs. "biological essentialists" as being similarly split between those who want the equivalent of a mathematical theory, even if they don't express it that way, vs. those who seek a research methodology of using a scientifically testable experimental hypothesis that can observed, for example, finding a genetic modification or change in the development process of an animal, that measurably changes its minority sexual orientation or gender identity. (NOTE: I am NOT making this observation as a condemnation of either point of view, but rather as an observation of the different types of intellectual learning methods used over time.)

What made me think about this was probably the following event in Corvallis that I wish my health enabled me to attend. Here is a quote from a local alternative newspaper:

QueerHistory Queer History Month ContinuesOregon State University's Pride Center continues its Queer History Month festivities this week with "Sexy Talk About Safe Sex." The Pride Center is the hub for LGBTQQIA activities at OSU and a staple for queer programming and progressive thinking in Corvallis.

A steady stream of Pride Center-sponsored fall events have included a community BBQ and an event with free coffee in the quad. These get-togethers are intended to build conversation for a new thrust in Pride Center activism: "Queering the Archive."

"We've been working all summer to have a list of events that meets the common theme of 'queering the archives,'" said Pride Center leadership liaison Stina Goetter. The theme reflects an ongoing attempt by the Pride Center to reach into both the future and the past and document the lives and stories of queer people in Oregon.

Students at OSU have long celebrated the right and ability to publicly choose alternative relationships. Despite its origins as a conservative ag school surrounded by small town culture, the university began offering classes exploring homosexual love as early as 1975. The university's first gay student group was founded in 1976. The Pride Center, which opened in 2001, functions as a safe space for LGBTQQIA students, and an active voice for inclusiveness at OSU.

The Pride Center has already had a significant interest in helping queer narratives take root on campus. Professors can request storytellers to come and present queer narratives to the class, a service called pride panels. This month's activities are intended to expand that effort.

Outside campus, queer narratives are being brought to light through literature published by groups like the Gay and Lesbian Archive of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) and the Corvallis Queer Film Festival.

The Pride Center hopes to expand the conversation by eventually creating an online archive of queer stories from the university. The archive will attempt to maintain a public record of the stories of queer OSU students-past, present, and future.

Goetter hopes that the Pride Center can help OSU envision its queer narratives of both the future and the past. "It's all about keeping a record of queer stories now, and also going out and finding queer narratives under the surface of recorded histories."

A number of the Pride Center's Queer History Month events are open to the public, including the upcoming annual drag show, held on Friday, Oct. 24 at LaSells Stewart Center. The Pride Center is located at 1553 SW A Avenue, just north of Western Boulevard.

(Quoted from Joel DeVyldere, "Queer History Month Continues," posted Oct. 16, 2014)

It amuses me that the only thing constant since ancient Greece is the theatrical art of drag!