The arrival of the weekend and warm spring weather will not be the only thing celebrated on campus today, as the second annual "Proud of My Whole Self" Day will honor connections between identity and expression.
Spearheaded by the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the event was organized to provide forums for discussion of race and gender between members of the Bowdoin community. The College's first "Proud of My Whole Self" Day took place in the fall of 2009, but this year was scheduled to coincide with "Gaypril" and the Bowdoin Experience weekend.
The day's guest speaker, Linda Villarosa, is an acclaimed journalist, editor and author. She will deliver her keynote lecture, "Colliding Identities: Bringing Your Whole Self Out Everywhere," tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Cleaveland 151.
Other events for the all-day affair include a lunch with Villarosa on the professional fields of writing and journalism, a faculty-led roundtable discussions exploring identity in the Bowdoin environment during the afternoon, a celebratory dinner featuring several student performances, and a party at the Russwurm African American Center.
Villarosa has published articles in a series of high-profile publications such as The New York Times, Glamour, Health, O Magazine and Woman's Day, and has worked as an editor for The New York Times and Essence magazine. She has also authored and co-authored three books, including her recently published novel "Passing for Black."
As a lesbian and African-American woman, Villarosa will explore how the intersection of those identities has influenced her professional career.
Cathy Kidman, interim director of the Resource Center, described Villarosa as a "dynamic speaker."
"I think that she'll be relevant [to] every Bowdoin student, and I would avoid the assumption that only some groups of students will find her powerful and relevant," she said.
Christopher Houdlette '12 helped organize the event and said he hopes Villarosa's message—as well as the discussion it generates—resonates with students during Experience Weekend.
Houdlette explained that last year's event was "one of the best and frank and sincere conversations about identity at Bowdoin" he has ever had, and said that the discussions with faculty in a non-academic setting were invaluable to creating discourse on the expression of race, sex, religious affiliation and more.
"What I'm hoping from this event is that people come out who are not just the same group of gay kids, students of color," he added. "I hope we get a cross-section of people that maybe don't have that much to do with the identities we are discussing."
Both Houdlette and Kidman cited the importance of the day in light of the recent bias incidents.
"I think the more opportunities for honest and authentic conversation about the intersections of all of our identities...create[s] real bonds between students and faculty," said Kidman. "The more dialogue the better, because it creates a strength upon campus to be able to respond well and educate and hopefully prevent bias incidents."