Tag: black LGBTQ community

Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor

Robert Reid-Pharr (Photo Courtesy of Robert Reid-Pharr via Harvard Magazine)

by Brandon J. Dixon via harvardmagazine.com

Robert Reid-Pharr, renowned scholar of African-American and African diasporic gender and sexuality studies, on July 1st joined the Harvard University faculty as its first senior professor hired solely in women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGS).

His appointment follows that of assistant professor Durba Mitra, who was hired last year as the first faculty member ever solely in WGS; both hires come at a “historic” time for WGS, according to the program’s director, Robin Bernstein, Dillon professor of African and African American Studies and of WGS. The field has seen increased undergraduate interest in its courses in the last few years.

“The number one reason that we were able to make hires is because we have an incredible student base. Our classes are typically over-enrolled, our courses are very well evaluated, and our Q scores”—students’ ratings of Harvard classes—“are through the roof,” Bernstein said. “So I think we’re at a historical moment where a lot of people understand that gender and sexuality really matter.”

The hires may also reflect the need for appointing young tenure-track faculty across Harvard’s schools whose scholarship is in line with evolving student interest, as noted in the report of the University’s Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging earlier this year.

Reid-Pharr previously served as the Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality studies in 2016, a short-term endowed professorship that invites leading scholars of “issues related to sexual minorities—that is, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people” to teach at Harvard.

“We hired him because he’s brilliant, because his scholarship is brilliant, because his scholarship is extraordinary in its impact on multiple fields, but notably on the field of African-American gender and sexuality studies,” Bernstein said. “He is a scholar who has published four extremely important, high-impact books, all of which are deeply original, astonishingly erudite, and all of which have had very high impact on multiple fields.”

Reid-Pharr’s books include Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual; Black Gay Man; Conjugal Union: The Body, The House and the Black American; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post-Humanist Critique.

Once You Go Black was a Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBT studies in 2007. In it, Reid-Pharr posits that a black American identity was not “inevitable,” and that twentieth-century black American intellectuals like James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright have “actively chosen the identity schemes”—of race, gender, and sexuality—that form the basis of a contemporary understanding of black American identity.

Black Gay Man—a collection of nonfiction essays critiquing the construction of black gay identity through an interdisciplinary approach—was the recipient of the 2002 Randy Shilts Award for best gay non-fiction.

Reid-Pharr was recently a distinguished professor at the City University of New York (CUNY)’s Graduate Center, specializing in African-American, postcolonial, transnational, and global literary theory. He has received research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for literary criticism in 2016.

At Harvard, he will complete research for a book-length project on James Baldwin which he hopes will be informed by discussions with students in his classroom. He also intends to help Harvard with “institution building,” or the development of institutional networks for interdisciplinary discussion and international academic collaboration.

Continue reading “Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor”

2017 Elections Round Up: Major Victories in State, Local Elections for African Americans

VA Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (l); Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins (r)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

If last night’s elections are any indicator of what is possible in the 2018 mid-terms, there will be even more to celebrate in a year’s time. Not only did the states of New Jersey and Virginia vote in the Democratic candidates for governor (Philip Murphy and Ralph Northam, respectively), each state also elected their first and second African-American lieutenant governors, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax.  Fairfax is the first African American elected to statewide office in Virginia in 25 years. Read more about the victories and histories of both by clicking their names above.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles (l) and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter (r)

Two major U.S. cities also voted in mayors of color yesterday: Melvin Carter became the first black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte, NC’s first African-American female mayor.

Additionally, Andrea Jenkins, who became the first openly trans woman of color elected to the city council of a major U.S. city, will represent Ward 8 of Minneapolis. To read the Washington Post feature on her, click here.

Another big city council seat win came from Mazahir Salih, the first immigrant to do so in Iowa City. Salih moved to the US from Sudan in 1997 and you can read more about her win here.

To continue to support these candidates, you can follow each on Twitter:

@SheilaOliverNJ, @FairfaxJustin@PhilMurphyNJ, @RalphNortham, @melvincarter3, @ViLyles, 

@andreaforward8, and @MazahirIowaCity.

Voting matters. High turnouts are meaningful. Congratulations to the winners, much gratitude to the grass roots organizers, canvassers and volunteers, and power to the people – always!

Spelman College Awards Scholarships for LGBTQ Advocates via Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program

by Paul Meara via bet.com

Spelman College, an all girls HBCU, announced this week a new scholarship program for students of the school who advocate for LGBTQ issues. The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall said.

Guy-Sheftall is also the founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. The scholarship is named after Dr. Lee Watkins, who is Sheftall’s cousin and a founding member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board. Guy-Sheftall pledged $100,000 in May and launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.

According to The Root, two Spelman sophomores who self-identify as LGBTQ advocates will be awarded renewable $25,000 scholarships this fall. “As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said after the scholarship program was announced.

To read more, go to: Spelman College Is Awarding Hefty Scholarships For LGBTQ Advocates | National | BET

Sean and Terry Torrington Create SlayTV, Media Network for Black Queer Community

Sean and Terry Torrington (photo via nbcnews.com)

article by Julie Compton via nbcnews.com

The term “slay” has important meaning to out director Sean Torrington. “To kill it, to be the best of the best, to always be on top,” he told NBC Out. It’s also the name of the 36-year-old’s new global media network for LGBTQ people of color.

SlayTV is the brainchild of Torrington and his husband, Terry Torrington, also a director. He said it gives a platform to black LGBTQ storytellers whose voices mainstream media often ignores. It also allows them to make money so they can “keep on creating the dope content they create,” he explained.

Torrington started his career as a Goldman Sachs project manager. After getting laid off in 2010, he took the opportunity to follow his passion for filmmaking and began creating web series on YouTube that centered on LGBTQ people of color. He said it’s a community that rarely sees itself reflected in gay or mainstream media.

According to a 2016 GLAAD report, cable and streaming platforms predominantly depict LGBTQ characters that are white (72 percent and 71 percent, respectively, in the most recent TV season).

“People would come up to us and be like ‘Oh, where can we see more content like this? This is really revolutionary, this is great,'” Torrington said. “I was like …’We need one central location for queer [and] trans people of color television.'”

Shortly after, Torrington created an app that collects selected content about LGBTQ people of color from YouTube into a single platform. “We literally within a month got 20,000 downloads,” he said. Continue reading “Sean and Terry Torrington Create SlayTV, Media Network for Black Queer Community”