On Tuesday, hundreds of students, faculty and staff donned yellow shirts that read “Respect. All genders. All sexualities,” for Bowdoin Queer-Straight Alliance’s (BQSA) seventh Yellow Shirt Day. A part of programming for OUTtober, the event is hosted annually near National Coming Out Day in order to show solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community at the College.
As part of OUTtober, Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) sent 13 students to Bates College’s first Maine Youth Summit and Queer/ Trans Conference last Saturday. Open to both college students and community members such as LGBTQIA+ youth, parents and college faculty and staff, the conference allowed Bowdoin students to immerse themselves in a large, diverse group of queer and trans people.
This month is the College’s first annual OUTtober, a month of programming by Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) celebrating various sexuality and gender identities. In the past, BQSA has organized events during the week of National Coming Out Day on October 11 and has hosted a month of programming in February, known as “Februqueery.” OUTtober will replace “Februqueery” as BQSA’s month-long series of events, although BQSA will continue to recognize Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.
A “queer disabled nonbinary femme writer and cultural worker of Burger/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent” is how Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha describes herself on her website. An activist and poet, she came to Bowdoin last night to share her work in several events sponsored by various groups from all areas of campus, underscoring the intersecting identities that have influenced her experience and perspective.
In his lecture on Wednesday, Jonathan Katz argued that pop art is an inherently queer form of self-expression, an idea originally censored in a now fully-published interview with Andy Warhol. Katz—founder of the Harvey Milk Institute and director of the visual culture studies doctoral program at the State University of New York at Buffalo—presented his interpretation of Andy Warhol’s pop artwork through a unique lens of queer studies and censorship in his lecture, “The Unknown Queer Warhol.” Flowing from an analysis of a resurrected version of this formerly censored interview with Warhol, Katz argued that Warhol’s pop imagery provided no less commentary on modern homosexuality than his blatantly queer early works.
By hosting speakers from a queer disabled writer to a black transgender reverend, Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) hopes that the first annual “OUTtober” will reflect and engage with a wider range of Bowdoin’s LGBTQ community.