Bursting at the Seams

Dear Friends:

Welcome to our redesigned CLAGSNews! As you can see, CLAGS is going through a number of changes, both stylistic and substantial. We’ve moved CLAGSNews to a mostly electronic format, in part to save precious resources, but also to take advantage of the endless possibilities of web-based text. We’ll also be updating our logo and the CLAGS website to make it a real resource for LGBT Studies.

As we approach the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, we at CLAGS are looking back to assess our achievements, and gazing into the future and the beginning of our third decade in the field. As our founding director Martin Duberman illustrated in his recent memoir Waiting to Land, CLAGS’s existence was hardly an inevitability: it was the result of hard and dedicated work by dozens of people within and outside academia who believed that Queer Studies needed an institutional home. Moreover, that work was done in the face of explicit and unspoken opposition and even hostility.

In anticipation of our 20th anniversary, in the 2011-2012 academic year, it’s sometimes hard to remember what the intellectual landscape looked like without a place like CLAGS (and for how long we were the only institute of our kind). I see the results of the efforts of previous CLAGS staff, directors, and executive boards in the breathtaking diversity of our events; the ongoing achievements of OutHistory and the International Resource Network; the hundreds of applications we receive for fellowships every year; the vibrant special programming, like our Lesbians in the 1970s series and Seminars in the City, that emerge from the work of committed queer intellectuals. And I’m particularly proud of our partnerships with community organizations like SAGE, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Visual AIDS, GLSEN, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, who inspire us with their recognition of the crosspollination of queer theories and queer practices.

CLAGS is at a crossroads. We have grown dramatically in the past decade, thanks to members like you. But our resources have not kept pace with that growth. Certainly, the economic crisis the nation is experiencing puts the gap between our needs and our capacities in sharp relief. But even before the current downturn, it was increasingly clear that we were bursting at the seamsóin a good way, I should add, but bursting nonetheless. In the coming years, CLAGS is committed to bringing you the same high level of cutting-edge programming, and offering fellowships for emerging and established scholars in the field. But we’ll also be coming to you, our members and supporters, for help. I hope that you will be generous in both acknowledging how far we’ve come and supporting our plans for the future.


Sarah Chinn