Veronica Hernandez ’13
This weekend, Hampshire College will host the fourth annual Five College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference. The event runs March 1 and 2 and features notable keynote speakers, performances, readings and workshops.
Three Hampshire students started the conference in 2009 in an effort to create an inclusive, safe space for queer-identified people and to open up dialogues with other students to further education.
“Since then, it has grown into a conference that aims to not only celebrate queer identity, but foster critical thinking and combat oppressions experienced at the intersections of queer identities,” said Tejal Mankad ’13. Mankad serves as a member of the conference’s organizing committee. “Organizing the event is fun and exciting, but being full-time students obviously limits how much time we can all contribute.”
This year, the workshop will feature keynote speaker José Esteban Muñoz, an author who focuses on issues of race and queer issues from the performance perspective. Other notable guests include the Heels on Wheels Roadshow, Cristy C. Road, Kay Ulanday Barrett and Fabian Romero.
As the conference gained momentum, it has expanded to include another day of events for the first time this year.
“An additional day allows us to include a wider variety of workshops and reach a larger audience,” said Mankad. “This year, we have a queer prom, spoken word artists and dozens of workshops – we hope that there is something of interest and value to all attendees.”
“By doing so, we are able to reach an even larger audience of students, faculty, and community members who may not be able to attend or present at this event otherwise,” organizers of the event wrote on its indiegogo.com fundraiser page.
“Of course, funding is always a challenge!” said Turner William ’13, another member of the organizing committee. “The expansion to two days has doubled our budget and we have had to reach out to a greater number of potential donors within the Five Colleges.” The fundraiser, which was heavily advertised by Devyn Manibo on tumblr, ran until Feb. 21 and raised a total of $1,625. While the group aimed to raise $5,000, organizers appreciated the donations of those involved.
“We believe in the power of free education events and do not ever plan to charge a registration fee so that we can create a more inclusive and accessible space for students and community members,” said Mankad.
The conference this year will feature a wide variety of events, workshops and discussions. “Every year, we receive many interesting workshop proposals from students within the Five Colleges and individuals from around the country. It’s always hard to decide who and what to include in our schedule,” said William.
“In some cases, we invited former presenters to return so that we are able to develop lasting relationship where they can continue to contribute to the conference dialogue … In other cases, we selected new workshop topics and presenters so that the conference can grow and change over time,” William continued.
“This year, we have worked hard to include more presenters and performers of color,” said Mankad. “It’s important to us to center historically marginalized communities within the Five College queer and trans community. Our vision of inclusivity is always a work in progress and we welcome contributions and feedback about how to make the conference a safer space for everyone.”
Interested students can register online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZPSK39C, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.