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FGSS/LGBT programs plan yearlong anniversary celebration

Faculty, staff, students and alumni are planning a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cornell’s women’s studies program, now Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (FGSS), as well as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ+) activism and advocacy on campus. 

“TRANS*forming the Future: 50 years of Feminist and LGBT studies at Cornell,” kicks off Sept. 16 from 4:30-6 p.m. with “Trans-generational,” an event featuring a panel of speakers. The inter-generational panel will discuss the evolving meanings of gender and sexuality and the event will be livestreamed. Register at eCornell here.

Jennie Farley, an early director of the Women's Studies Program, sits at a table with students circa 1970s.

"We're so excited to be able to celebrate these important anniversaries in the coming year; we also think it's important to take a moment to pause and reflect about some of the challenges,” said Durba Ghosh, professor of history at Cornell and former director of FGSS. “We hope the conversation on September 16 will offer both moments of reflection and celebration from Cornellians who have been involved with FGSS and LGBT studies and those who have recently graduated." 

The discussion, which will be moderated by Ghosh, includes the following panelists:

  • Biddy Martin, founding member of the Cornell LGBT studies program, former provost at Cornell, and currently president of Amherst College;
  • Ezra Young ‘09, visiting assistant professor at Cornell Law School, and founding board member of the National Trans Bar Association;
  • Naiara Bezarra-Gastesi ’21, FGSS major;
  • and Ximena Sanchez ’23, FGSS minor from the College of Engineering.

Panelists will discuss the history of Cornell's programs; how our personal views, values, and location shape how we conceptualize gender and sexuality; how those subjectivities intersect with race, religion, class and other aspects of identity and the effects of queer and feminist activism on the continued pursuit of social justice.

A gay pride rally on Ho Plaza in 1993.

"This event and others planned for the year embody the goals of our programs--to stimulate intellectual debate in a manner that advances social change," said Jane Juffer, professor of literatures in English and director of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Other events planned for the year include:

  • A three-part discussion on the history of feminist and lesbian theater, hosted by e-Cornell, taking place Sept. 30, Oct. 12 and Nov. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. each night. Sara Warner, professor of performing and media arts and director of LGBT Studies, will moderate the first session. Registration links and more information will soon be available at eCornell. “Performance – a broad term encompassing political demonstrations, zap actions, drag pageants, house balls, women’s music festivals, theater and televisual representations – remains an integral part of LGBT activism,” Warner said.
  • A Dec. 4 book launch and dance party at the Cornell Club in New York City, to officially launch the FGSS Alumni Association and celebrate Juffer’s forthcoming book, “Millenial Feminism at Work: Bridging Theory and Practice.” The collection of essays was inspired by a FGSS alumni panel of March 2019 and includes essays by three Cornell alumni, as well as 14 other millennial feminists, discussing how they bring together feminism and work. Register for the event here.
  • A Feb. 3 event focused on transnational migration. More details will be available soon.
  • A spring event at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts featuring a panel of artist alumni exploring feminist and queer participation in the arts. Details coming soon.
  • A spring LGBT studies class taught by Professor Sara Warner will comb Cornell’s archives and interview alumni involved in the creation of the programs to create a short play that tells the history of the founding. The play will be recorded and added to the university’s archives.
  • Displays at Cornell libraries and in Rockefeller Hall, the home of the FGSS and LGBT programs, will include archival information and recent projects from students.
  • Banners celebrating the programs, to be hung in front of Rockefeller Hall in September.
  • A walking tour of the history of FGSS in Ithaca.

For more information on the yearlong series, visit the FGSS website.

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