Thank-you and have a great summer! 

Hello everyone:

Thank-you for your hard work this semester and for the rich, complex, personal, political, funny, heart-breaking, complicated, fascinating and compelling conversations we had in class over the course of the semester. As many of you reflected in your learning analyses we began with the concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality and built on those to explore various identities, life-stories, and histories. Whether you came in wth little knowledge and an open heart, or with personal experience within Lgbt communities and a thirst for more information, you have all learned and grown this semester and it has been a pleasure to be a part of that experience! 
Getting a PhD is a long haul, I am finishing up my fifth year and going into my sixth, and hopefully last year at UMD. This course, LGBT 200, may be the last I teach at UMD, and I am grateful for such a great last semester.  It was wonderful to teach a new class and explore a subject I care deeply about. Thank-you, each and every one of you for the part that you played in class.

Please feel free to keep in touch with me as you continue at UMD and venture beyond after graduation. I love to hear from my students and to learn what they are up to.  To all of you graduating seniors (of which our class had many): congratulations!!! I hope these next few days are full of excitement and wonder at a job well done. You made it! And deserve recognition for your accomplishments. 
Grades have been submitted, which means that the semester is officially over. However, I will keep posting to the blog when I see interesting queer/Lgbt events happening in the area, and you are also welcome to keep posting to it as well.

I have posted already several queer events happening in DC in the next few weeks. Note that many of them are welcoming to allies as well. I hope to see some of you in the near future! 

All the best,



Tonight: Audre Lorde documentary film and discussion with co-director!

When: Wednesday, May 20, 2015: 7pm

Where: GALA Hispanic Theater, 3333 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Cost: $10 (online or at the door)

Why: A Litany for Survival is an epic portrait of the eloquent, award-winning Black, lesbian, poet, mother, teacher and activist, Audre Lorde, whose writings — spanning five decades — articulated some of the most important social and political visions of the century.

For more information and upcoming District of Queer Events:

Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Events

Hi everyone:

I know ya’ll will be busy with finals, but I wanted to draw your attention to the many upcoming queer events happening in May and June, including “Black Transcendence: A black queer and trans arts experience”, a screening of “Litany for Survival” about the life of Audre Lorde, and a PJ party fundraiser for Be Steady’s cross-country tour.  Also, Pride is coming up! (Trans Pride is May 16th, Black Pride is May 22-24th, Capital Pride Parade is June 13th.) I hope that I will have a chance to see some of you soon! It’s been a great semester! Also–note that the learning analysis assignment has been fixed so you can now upload files.

[Image above, poster for Black Transcendance. Info listed: Hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis, Music by DJ Theodore Rexx, Collaboration between Makers Lab, Jay Barber, Taylor Johnson and Shaan Michael Wade. Impact Hub, 419 7th ST NW/ $5-$10 suggested donation]

SLIP! a queer pajama house party

Saturday. May 16th.  8pm.  736 ingraham st NW DC. 

Dj Hoodsnax and live drumming by asha santee
profits go to Be Steadwell’s 2016 winnebago cross country music tour
Displaying slip!4.png
[Image above, poster.  Text reads Queer Pajama Houseparty: SLIP into something more comfy. 8 pm May 16 NW DC. On the left is a shirt-less, dark-skinned person with a serious expression looking directly at the camera, and across the poster is a leg with fish-net stockings, the thigh in the right upper corner, the foot, off the image in the left bottom corner. ]
POPcorn & Queers screens
A litany for survival: the life & work of Audre Lorde
Q+A with Director Parkerson
Wednesday May 20th. 7pm. 3333 14th St NW DC. $10
Displaying p&qs.png
[Image above: poster with a film reel framing photographs of Audre Lorde, and event info (found in the post above) about the Popcorn and Queers screening of Audre Lorde]
[Image above, poster with circle and dates/times of Makers Lab events: For more info:!doq/c1ab7 ]

Vow of Silence, Group Presentation Times and #BlackLivesMatter

Vow of Silence Screening Tomorrow 

If you haven’t already, look around Be Steadwell’s website to learn a little bit more about her in preparation for her visit.

Please come to class on time tomorrow.  We will be starting promptly at 12:30. As I have stated before, there will be a faculty member from WMST in class to observe, and we also want to start the film (30 minutes long) as soon as possible in order to leave a good chunk of time for discussion.

Before the film starts, I am going to prompt you to write down a question that you have about the film or about Be Steadwell’s process. (You can start thinking about this now).  After the film, I will ask you to write down another question/comment based on what you watched and we will use these during discussion.

As you watch “Vow of Silence” think about Audre Lorde’s ideas about the role of poetry and art in naming the nameless. How does this film tell a story? How can we relate what is shown here to readings and class discussions that we have had over the course of the semester?

Readings for Monday, May 4th: 

I know that folks had expressed interest in learning more about LGBT identities and cultures outside of the US, (among many other topics like medical transition, pronouns, LGBT experiences in the military) but considering current events happening in our own backyard, for our last class discussion I want us to focus on the local.  I will talk about LGBT resources on campus, the LGBT minor/major, and we may have some guests from the LGBT Equity Center and/or the LGBT Studies program to briefly speak to class. We will also discuss the current events happening in Baltimore, activism around #BlackLivesMatter, the role of protest and community organizing. I don’t know what will happen between today and next Monday, but I think this is important to think about and discuss. It will also serve as a way to reflect back on the semester, and the LGBT social movements history that we have covered–thinking about AIDS community activism, Stonewall, Compton Cafeteria Riots, respectability politics, racism and transphobia within activist communities and more.

I am assigning two readings from the many articles and blog posts that I have been reading today: “Baltimore Been Burning”  an article explaining the rage that we are witnessing and “Gays Condemning Riots,” an article connecting current riots to Stonewall.  I would also recommend: “A Herstory of #BlackLivesMatter” which many of you will have already read since I handed it out in class several weeks ago.  If folks have other articles that they think are important to share about what is happening in Baltimore, or that they are reading from facebook, twitter, etc, I would encourage you to link them in a comment on this post. (Put the website in the text box of the comment, not the “website” box–that is there to link your name to your blog if you have one).

Finally, we will hopefully have some time to talk about any terms that people are confused about–or any outstanding questions that we have at the end of the semester.

Group Presentation Times (Please let me know if I am wrong) 

May 6th: The LGBT Club, Rainbow Lasers 2.0 and LGBTQIA Lords

May 11th: Good Time Amigos, The Cool Kids, Group 6, and Group 7

Finally, I am posting below videos from our Monday, April 27th Class for those who were absent: 

Further from the Straight and Narrow 

Note that “boi” from the lost bois, is from a term in the LGBT community to describe someone was assigned female at birth but has a masculine gender expression and/or identity.

Readings for Next Week

Hi folks:

IMPORTANT: If you do not have a group yet–it is your responsibility to get in one.  The first presentations will be on May 6th–two weeks from today. Please let me know (through commenting on this post whether your group wants to present on May 6th or May 11th). If I don’t hear from you, then I will assign a date for your group.

Readings Next Week:  It seems like folks are burnt out, and I am going to keep the readings light for next week.

Please read “Poetry is not a Luxury” by Audre Lorde.  You may also find it useful to revisit Audre Lorde’s “Silence into Language and Action.” Lorde’s work helps us think about the way that we frame our stories and our narratives, and will be particularly useful in thinking about “Vow of Silence” which is a queer fairy-tale musical drama.

I also want you to read this blog post by Be Steady: A Queer Musician’s Guide to Getting Heard. 

On Monday, in class I will represent a lecture on queer images in the media.  We will watch a clip from “Further Off the Straight and Narrow” which you can preview here, along with clips from various shows on television today, which will help prepare us for watching Vow of Silence.

We will then discuss the Audre Lorde reading “Poetry” and Be Steady’s Guide to Queer Musicians so that we have a collective understanding of both in preparation for Wednesday’s class.

For Wednesday, I want you to keep in mind my lecture and our discussion, as we watch the movie and engage in conversation with Be.  Please look at her website before class, as it gives you information about who she is, the work that she has created and her movies and music.  While you will not have movie-related questions until we watch the movie, please come to class prepared with a few questions for Be, based on what you have learned about her online, and our conversations on Monday.

Finally, I wanted to share this TED Talk: “I am not your inspiration” by Stella Young, which relates to conversations we had in class this week about disability, and the way that disabled people’s bodies are used as inspiration to others.



Queer Studies Symposium Assignment and Alternatives

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow is the Queer Studies Symposium! I am very excited; this is one of my favorite annual events on campus, with fascinating research presentations to attend and interesting scholars to meet and learn from. Instead of our Wednesday class, I am asking you to attend a panel presentation, the plenary discussion, or keynote speech.  You can find the schedule below and figure out what is most interesting, and when you would be able to attend.  (I will be presenting my own research at 9:30 am in 3134 Tawes Hall, on a panel called “Familial Speculations: New Norms and Alternative Narratives of Parenting, Childhood, and Youth” Please sign in on the “Jessica Vooris’ LGBT 200” sign-in sheet at the registration table (in the main lobby of Tawes) and also submit a short paragraph as a comment on this post about which panel you went to (a couple sentences about what the panel was about, a sentence or two about the paper (or part of a speech) that was most interesting, and a sentence or two about what you thought of said panel/paper/speech overall).  Basically I just want a bit of commentary that shows that you were there, and that you were paying attention.  Note that this is an academic conference, and some of the papers may be more theoretical than others.  Queer Theory can be confusing–on a basic level it is about breaking down normative assumptions that we have about how gender, sexuality are constructed in society–and queer theorists often argue that identities are historical, contextual, and ever-changing.  It is okay if you leave with more questions than answers– and you can include these questions in your paragraph as your commentary if you would like.

Queer Studies Symposium Schedule 

Some of you have already told me that you can’t make the symposium this Friday, and that is partially my fault for not reminding you about this day way ahead of time! I have included the Pride Month Calendar below–if you can’t go to the Symposium, you can choose an event from there to attend instead and write about it.  (Please let me know via an ELMS message if you are doing this instead of the Symposium.)  I would highly recommend “The Queer Monologues” which is at 7 pm on April 19th in Hoff Theatre (I would recommend this to all of you–regardless of whether you are going for credit or not).  Also, on Monday, April 20th there is “Speaking of Books: A Conversation with Masha Gessen”  at 4:00pm – 5:30pm in the McKeldin Special Events Room 6137.  This also looks interesting: Queer Heroes of Colors: How Minority Leaders Shape the LGBTQ Rights Movement, Thu, April 23, 3:30pm – 5:00pm. Where MICA/LCSL Training Room.  You may also choose an alternative event from the calendar below.  Note that if you want to go to a Pride Alliance Weekly Discussion group (Women2Women, MIQ, Ace Space etc), you should check in with me about that ahead of time, as I would like to have a conversation about these groups and how to enter them respectfully, with awareness of your own identities (especially if you don’t identify as LGBTQA).  Also, if you choose this last option, please send me your paragraph through ELMS message center–don’t post it publicly. 

Pride Month Calendar