Talks mark campus LGBTQ exhibits and milestones

From April 27-28, the “Radical Desire” symposium brings together pioneering lesbian feminist scholars, publishers, and photographers at Cornell, to celebrate library exhibits that showcase the archives of the lesbian erotic magazine “On Our Backs” and to mark the 30th and 50th anniversary of Cornell’s LGBT Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies programs.

On April 27, from 4 to 6 p.m., sexuality studies scholar and LGBTQ activist Gayle Rubin will give a talk entitled “The Feminist Sex Wars: A Retrospective.” Author of the award-winning book “Deviations” and anthropologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Rubin will discuss the debates that arose among feminist communities in the United States in the 1980s around issues such as pornography and work of sex. This event will take place in room 2B48 of the Kroch Library (capacity of 50 seats) and will be broadcast live via Zoom (registration required).

Cover of the summer 1984 issue of “On Our Backs” magazine. From the Cornell Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University Library.

On April 28, from 4 to 6 p.m., the editors, photographers and editors of “On Our Back” will host a panel discussion titled “Making a Lesbian Sex Magazine in the Age of Feminist Sex Wars.” Panelists include Lulu Belliveau, Susie Bright, Phyllis Christopher, Morgan Gwenwald, Nan Kinney, Jill Posener, Deborah Sundahl and Jessica Tanzer. The discussion will focus on the role of photography in the representation and formation of lesbian desire, and delve into the controversies surrounding “On Our Backs”. This event will take place in the Lewis Auditorium at Goldwin Smith Hall and will be streamed live via Zoom (registration required).

The talks help capture important moments in the history of the LGBTQ movement through vital first-hand accounts from members of the burgeoning queer and lesbian communities in the 70s and 80s that helped shape the public discourse on sex. and sexuality in the United States and abroad. , said Brenda Marston, curator of the Cornell Human Sexuality Collection, which organized the symposium.

“Some important women who were involved in ‘On Our Backs’ and the lesbian and queer community of that time are gone,” Marston said, “but our speakers can tell their stories to a new generation.”

She added, “These events are really about fostering community and the strength that comes from knowing more about the stories of activism.”

Co-sponsored by the Public History Initiative and the LGBT Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies programs, the lectures are free and open to the public. In-person attendees are required to follow campus masking guidelines.

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