news emu to host inaugural lgbtq history month event on virginia queer history

EMU to host LGBTQ+ History Month event on Virginia queer history

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Eastern Mennonite University will host “Living Queer History: A Conversation Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month,” the first time the school is acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQ+ history.

The Thursday, Oct. 28, event features author, activist, and public historian Gregory Samantha Rosenthal, PhD, speaking on their forthcoming book “Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City.”

LGBTQ+ History Month began in 1994 in the United States to celebrate the history and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. Traditionally celebrated in October in the US, the month is celebrated in different countries at different times of the year.

The 4-6 p.m. lecture is sponsored by EMU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Safe Space.

“At EMU, we journey with our painful history toward LGBTQ+ people. Before 2015, openly LGBTQ+ people were not permitted to work here on campus,” said Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán. “This LGBTQ+ History Month Lecture represents the first time we are publicly acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQ+ history. We invite our community to learn alongside us in this time of reckoning and healing as we strive to build a community of learners where everyone is heard, affirmed, valued, and respected.”

Register for the webinar to participate in the Q and A session afterwards, or find the livestream of the event on EMU’s Facebook page.

You do not need a Facebook account or page to access Facebook Live, nor does clicking on the link obligate you in any way to Facebook.

Introductions and grounding will precede the main event, with Rosenthal speaking from 4:30-5:30 p.m., followed by time for questions from the audience.

“Living Queer History” is described as “an interweaving of historical analysis, theory and memoir,” according to the UNC Press website. Rosenthal, a professor of public history at Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, tells the story of coming out and transitioning as a transgender woman while working on the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, a community-based history project that documented a multigenerational southern LGBTQ community. Rosenthal is a co-founder and project leader.

Founded in September 2015, the group has collected physical archives and oral histories, hosts a podcast, and guides walking tours of Roanoke neighborhoods, among other initiatives and activities. Members and visitors are welcome at monthly meetings.

“Queer history is a living practice,” Rosenthal writes. “LGBTQ+ people today will not agree on what story should be told. Many people desire to celebrate the past by erecting plaques and painting rainbow crosswalks, but queer and trans people in the twenty-first century need more than just symbols —they need access to power, justice for marginalized people, spaces of belonging. Approaching the past through a lens of queer and trans survival and world-building transforms history itself into a tool for imagining and realizing a better future.”

The project has won the 2019 Unsung Hero Award from the Roanoke City Office of Neighborhood Services; the 2018 Heritage Education Award from the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation; and Honorable Mention for the 2018 Allan Bérubé Prize from the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History.



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