Ackerman Lecture

The First Annual Dr. John Patten Memorial Lecture was held November 14 at the Hunter College of Social Work. CLAGS agreed to cosponsor the lecture, developed to honor the life and work of Dr. John Patten, faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, Medical Director of the Institute’s AIDS Project, and co-founder and co-director of the Institute’s Gay and Lesbian Family Study Project. Dr. Patten was also co-founder and senior editor of In The Family Magazine, a family therapy-oriented magazine for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their relations. He died of AIDS on October 4, 1995. The lecture was developed to explore the role and issues of gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the American family. A panel of distinguished scholars and thinkers on gay family life were gathered, including Kath Weston, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Arizona State University and author of Families We Choose: Lesbians and Cays and Kinship and Render Me, Gender Me; Jose Munoz, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at New York University and co-editor of Pop/Out: Queer Warhol and Politics in Motion: Culture, Music, and Dance in Latina/a America; and Thomas Allen Harris, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California at San Diego and director of the film Vintage: Families of Value which looks at African-American gay and lesbian sibling relationships. The panel was moderated by family therapist Stanley Siegel, MSW. Panelists explored how race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation influence the family life of gay and lesbian people. A lively discussion developed among members of the Ackerman Family Therapy Institute and other family therapists, challenging common notions and beliefs about gay people in families. The event was stimulating and thought-provoking. Many attendees expressed interest in participating in next year’s lecture, which will be held November 20.