Capital Campaign to mark CLAGS’S 15TH ANNIVERSARY

It may seem hard to believe, but when the new year rolled in, CLAGS turned 15.
In 1991, CLAGS opened as the first university-based research center for what
was then called “lesbian and gay” studies in the U.S. It’s been a heady,
infectiously exciting, and sometimes contentious 15 years.
Just to give you an idea—thumbing through old stacks of CLAGS posters
and newsletters, I find: mention of an inaugural year symposium with Simon
LeVay titled, “The Brain and Homosexuality”; a 1992 notice about Blanche
Wiesen Cook presenting her work on Eleanor Roosevelt; an account of a
packed 1993 benefit hosted by Gore Vidal and
Kate Millett; a description of a 1994 colloquium
talk by one of CLAGS’s first Rockefeller Fellows,
Charles Nero, titled “What Did I Do To Be So
Black and Gay?”; pictures of some of the
organizers of the historic 1995 “Black
Nations/Queer Nations Conference,” including
Cheryl Clarke, Cathy Cohen, Wahneema
Lubiano, Robert Reid-Pharr, Colin Robinson,
and Kendall Thomas; and, also from 1995, a
very polite CLAGSnews account of the “Sissies and
Tomboys” mini-conference, where in fact transgender
studies pioneer Susan Stryker spoke forcefully and movingly from the floor
against the psychoanalytic transphobia of some of the panelists. (This is a very
short and a very arbitrarily list—look in next issue of CLAGSnews for a complete
list of every speaker and CLAGS event that ever took place.)
It’s been, in short, 15 years of momentous national conferences,
impassioned interventions from the floor, colloquium presentations of cuttingedge
research, and, among other things, seminar in the city reading groups
that don’t end after three months but continue on in someone’s apartment for
years after. That’s 15 years of providing vital incubating space for the “queer”
ideas that can’t find a home in mainstream venues. We know from the
feedback we get that many, many of you see that CLAGS as your institution,
and take part in CLAGS’s conferences and programs because you know they
are places for important questions to be raised, stands to be taken, and disagreements to be aired.
With the exception of
conferences, for which we charge a
very nominal fee of $40 ($10 for
students/low income) so we can ply
you with institutional coffee and
unlimited pita and hummus, all
CLAGS programs are free. It is our
mission to showcase the vital ideas in
LGBTQ studies and to create
discussion and dialogue in spaces that
are public, participatory, and free. We
work very hard to raise the money we
need to pay for it all, and we’re
grateful to our many members,
donors, and foundations that support
our work.
This year, we’re embarking on a
new initiative to ensure our long term
financial health, CLAGS 15th
Anniversary Capital Campaign.
“What?” you ask. “Capital? Don’t
they already have place in a nice
looking building, desks, staplers?”
Reading CLAGSnews twice a year, you
probably get a good sense of the
breadth and the depth of all the work
we do at CLAGS to foster queer
studies. But you may not be aware of
how much CLAGS relies on our
members and donors to support this
work.
In 2006, we will also be reflecting
on CLAGS’s long and distinguished
history at our May 12th event,
“CLAGS at 15” symposium (see
calendar details on page 9) where
we’ll be taking a long look back at
CLAGS’s history with founders, early
participants, and newer board
members, and in a “CLAGS at 15
DVD,” a compilation of key historical
moments during our 15 years of
events. We very much hope that
you’ll take part in our anniversary
events over the course of 2006, and
that each panel, colloquia, newsletter,
and website visit will remind you of
the crucial role that CLAGS has taken
on in LGTBQ culture and politics in
the U.S.—and now, beyond. I ask that
you make every effort possible to take
part in our Capital Campaign by
making a special anniversary donation
(either with the enclosed return
envelope, or by visiting our website at
www.clags.org) that will allow CLAGS
to continue expanding with LGTBQ
communities’ needs. Thank you for
your support.