"Is Bowdoin a place where the possibility of the captain of the hockey team being gay is a big scandalous news story, or is it just a part of what life can be?" asked Branden Asemah '12 in anticipation of today's conference, Anything But Straight in Athletics. The conference will include lectures from photographer Jeff Sheng and ESPN journalist LZ Granderson.

Asemah organized the all-day event in an effort to address tension regarding sexual orientation diversity in sports. The conference is sponsored by the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD), the Department of Visual Arts, the Department of Athletics, Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), the Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA), the Department of Gay and Lesbian Studies, the Office of Residential Life and Student Activities.

Today's events will kick off at 12:30 p.m. with a lecture from Sheng, who will discuss two of his current exhibitions at Bowdoin: "Fearless" and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "Fearless" is composed of photographs of high school and college athletes who are taking a stand against homophobia in sports, while "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" documents homosexual men and women in the military who have kept aspects of their identities hidden.

"The ['Fearless'] photo exhibit has a ton of photos of real people who go to schools, like Bowdoin, and they're gay, and they play a sport," said Asemah.

Sheng's photographs are on view around campus in various locations, including the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness, Farley Field House and in the Sail Room in Smith Union.

While visiting the campus, Sheng plans on adding photographs of five Bowdoin athletes to his series, running the gamut of sports and ages. This is the first time a Bowdoin student will be added to the project since its inception in 2000.

At 8 p.m., Granderson, who is one of the only openly out sports journalists, will present his lecture "Men, Manhood, and Mayhem: The Real Reasons Behind Homophobia in Sports." Granderson's visit is sponsored by OUT Media, which awarded George Aumoithe '11, the Campus Pride Voice and Action National Leadership Award.

The day's events will conclude with an invitation-only dinner for athletic leaders at the College and LGBQIT students, who will discuss homophobia in sports at Bowdoin and what the community can do to fight sexual background bias in the athletic arena.

Asemah began organizing the conference over Winter Break. He described it is a "spring semester version" of last semester's RCSGD's event, Proud of my Whole Self, which explored homosexual students of different ethnic backgrounds.

"It's an athletic culture at this school," Asemah said. "More than half of the student body participates in sports...but what's happening with homophobia in sports?"

"There are students who believe people can't be gay on [sports] teams," he added. "There are teams that have students that are openly not straight. We want to get the campus aware that just because a student plays a sport, [he or she] can be gay. Having that understanding at Bowdoin will help people come out and not hide."

"[This event is a] big opportunity to be ahead of the current national conversation [about homophobia in sports]," Asemah continued. "Bowdoin will be at the lead as a small NESCAC school to have such a powerful conference dedicated to this issue."

Asemah hopes that this conference will be the start of other annual events, both here and on other campuses.

"Things aren't going to change overnight at Bowdoin," said Asemah. "The message won't reach everyone. The hope is for this to be the beginning of conferences every year. We want to solidify Bowdoin for each student, no matter what their background may be."