Colloquium Report

Megan Jenkins, a doctoral student in Musicology, at the CUNY Graduate
Center, kicked off the fall Colloquium Series in LGBTQ Studies with her paper,
“A Queer Story About Opera: Diva-Worship and Homoeroticism in Berio’s
Recital I (for Cathy).” Jenkins argued that within this 1972 work, which on its
face traces the descent into madness of an opera diva, lies embedded a
complex network of subjectivities, including a network that can be read as a
story of homoeroticism in the opera house.
“We’ve gone from saying that homosexuality is pathological
to saying that not coming out is pathological,” said Carlos
Ulises Decena, in his presentation, “Tacit Subjects: A
Critique of Compulsory Disclosure.” Decena, an Assistant
Professor in the Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and Puerto
Rican & Hispanic Caribbean Studies at Rutgers, drew on both Spanish
grammar and his ethnographic research among Dominican immigrant
homosexual men living in New York City to argue against this view.
“Privileging the disclosure of a homosexual identity blinds investigators to
negotiations of the closet that do not resort to the confession, especially
among sexual minorities of color.”
Michael C. LaSala, an Associate Professor, School of Social Work,
Rutgers University and Psychotherapist at the Institute for Personal
Growth in Highland Park, New Jersey, described factors that help and
hinder parental adjustment to the coming out process in his talk,
“Lesbians, Gays and Their Parents: Discovery, Stigma, Adjustment,
and Connection.” His findings, which were based on in-depth
research interviews with 65 families of white, African American, and
Latino gay and lesbian youth, have important implications for gay
and lesbian mental health and HIV prevention for young gay males.
In her talk, “Sexual Sedition: From the Espionage Laws to the War
on Terror,” Molly McGarry traced a genealogy of the current “war
on terror” to the early years of the last century with the passage of
the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917-1918) and a newly
strengthened Immigration Act (1917). McGarry analyzed the trial of
Dr. Marie Equi, an I.W.W. organizer and birth control advocate
imprisoned under the sedition laws as “an anarchist, an abortionist,
and a degenerate” to restore historical links between sexual and
political dissidence, “unnatural” identities and un-American acts.
McGarry is a visiting scholar this year at NYU’s Center for Religion
and Media, and an Assistant Professor in Department of History at
University of California, Riverside.
Saadia Toor, who teaches in the Department of Sociology,
Anthropology, and Social Work at the College of Staten Island
of the City University of New York, ended the semester’s series
with her talk, “ ‘My love is like a red, red rose…’: The Political
Economy of Romance and the Global Floriculture Industry.”
Using a materialist feminist framework, Toor examined the
relationship between an increasingly globalized and
commodified culture of romance and the burgeoning world
trade in cut flowers to deconstruct the political economy of
romance in the late-capitalist world system.