As I complete my first year as CLAGS Executive
Director, all I can think is what a ride
it has been. The summer break has allowed
some time to put the clutch in neutral, idle,
and look back on the trip. Hindsight can let
one enjoy the view, appreciate the mostly
smooth drive, and occasionally say, “Wow!
That was a close one.”
First, the “close one”: We ended last year
in an extremely precarious financial position
with our grants all but dried up and our
funding drastically cut. The Board, the staff,
and our incredibly generous donors and
members rallied, and we entered the spring
term bolstered and ready to dig in and face
new (and some of the same old) challenges.
And what a spring it was.
In May we were heartened, of course, by
President Obama’s statement of support for
same-sex marriage. In the midst of continuing
coverage of LGBT teen suicide, votes to
amend state constitutions thereby limiting
LGBT rights, and threats to the physical wellbeing
of presumed LGBT children and adults
by church pastors and government officials,
it was comforting to have a bit of really good
news for a change. The inevitable backlash
followed, and the cacophonous noise included
the usual chorus of mean-spirited
talkshow hosts, all-but forgotten Hollywood
personalities (Kirk Cameron, anyone?), and
the voices of political and religious doom.
While this debate—including the accompanying
and often cynical probing of the timing
of the President’s announcement—played
itself out in the blink-of-an-eye news cycle,
CLAGS was rolling along, committing our
few resources and talented labor to helping
teachers refine and develop queer curricula,
sharing cutting-edge scholarship on gender
and sexualities, and hosting roundtable
discussions on LGBT history, activism, and
the arts. Those events and initiatives are
described at some length in the following
pages, and I hope that even though we have
the space to provide the briefest snapshots,
we are able to convey the richness of the
spring programming. While it probably goes
without saying, each element required a
good deal of time, effort, and care from the
participants, organizers, CLAGS staff members,
and our friends at the Graduate Center.
On behalf of the CLAGS Board, I would like to
express our enormous gratitude.
Looking ahead, the itinerary seems even
more ambitious. Just around the corner we
have a major conference celebrating the life
and legacies of Harry Hay. Along the way,
we have a book launch, a series on queer
performance in the twenty-first century, a
seminars-in-the-city focused on queer arts
throughout the city, and our fall culminates
in the presentation of the Kessler Award
to historian, playwright, activist (and did I
mention CLAGS’s founder?) Martin Duberman.
I can assure you that the CLAGS office
is buzzing with activity in preparation for our
ambitious fall calendar.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a heck
of a ride.