Queer Disruptions: A Conference on Gender & Sexuality

Queer Disruptions: A Conference on Gender & Sexuality


Queer Disruptions: A Conference on Gender & Sexuality convenes scholars, activists and artists from the U.S. and abroad to explore the ways that queer studies, policies and practices theorize, transform and reimagine scholarship and generate new social possibilities.

The conference opened with a keynote panel of artists, photographers and film-makers who have challenged traditional — and so often static — representations of gender and sexuality. It continued with four panels that explored the divergent perspectives that have emerged around marriage, disabilities, vulnerability and resilience, and the relationship between feminisms and gender expression.

Queer Disruptions extends Columbia University’s rich tradition of debate and research on themes relating to gender and sexuality. It is supported by the Provost’s Office for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of the Dean of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and is organized by the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Council of the University — a network of leaders of centers, institutes, and initiatives at Columbia University dedicated to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, chaired by Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science, and Yasmine Ergas, Director of the Specialization in Gender and Public Policy at SIPA.



Student Homophile League




Photos from the Conference

Videos from the Conference

Student Homophile League

Please click here to download images from Student Homophile League archive, located at the University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York. For information about the archive, please contact Sarah Witte.

Conference Schedule

Please click here to download the conference schedule.

Thursday, October 13 | Italian Academy (1161 Amsterdam Avenue)


Welcome and Introduction

Yasmine Ergas


Keynote Panel

Mariette Pathy Allen
Darren Dean
Zanele Muholi
Moderator: Juana María Rodríguez



Friday, October 14 | Faculty Room, Low Memorial Library (2960 Broadway)


Welcome and Introduction

Alondra Nelson


Panel | Marriage

Katherine Franke
Karess Taylor-Hughes
Angela Willey
Janson Wu
Moderator: Mignon Moore


Panel | Trans/Feminisms

Gabriela Cano
Jack Halberstam
Darren Rosenblum
C. Riley Snorton
Moderator: Tey Meadow


Lunch | Roundtable Discussions
Space is limited and seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Please reserve your seat here: goo.gl/forms/93dLukHwuIFCol1o2

"Disrupting Monogamy" with Melanie Brewster and Aaron Breslow
"Genderqueer and Non Binary Identities" with Walter Bockting
"Intersections between Queer and Disability Studies" with Rachel Adams and Christopher Baswell
"Queer People of Color After Orlando" with Steven Thrasher
"Queering the Past" with Patricia Dailey
"Transnational Transgender" with Katherine Ewing


Panel | Disability

Suzanne Bost
Mel Y. Chen
Christina Crosby
Robert McRuer
Moderator: Rachel Adams


Panel | Vulnerability and Resilience

Wendy Bostwick
Sari Reisner
Margaret Rosario
Patrick Wilson
Moderator: Walter Bockting


Closing Remarks

Participant Biographies

Mariette Pathy Allen @AllenMariette (MFA) has been photographing the transgender community for over 35 years. She has been a pioneering force in gender consciousness, contributing to numerous cultural and academic publications about gender variance and exhibiting and lecturing internationally. Her books include: Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them, The Gender Frontier, receipient of the 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Transgender/Genderqueer category, and TransCuba. Her newest book, Spirit Mediums in Myanmar and Thailand (Daylight books) is forthcoming in fall 2017.

Rachel Adams @RachelAdams212 is the director of the “Future of Disability Studies.” She is Professor of English and American Studies at Columbia University, where she specializes in 19th- and 20th-century literatures of the United States and the Americas, media studies, theories of race, gender, and sexuality, medical humanities and disability studies. Her most recent book is Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery (Yale University Press, 2013).

Christopher Baswell is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Anne Whitney Olin Professor of English at Barnard College. Baswell’s earliest research was in the reception and transformation of classical literature, especially narratives of empire and dynastic foundation. He is at work on new research on the cultural imagination of disability in the Middle Ages.

Walter Bockting @Walter_Bockting is a clinical psychologist and an internationally known sexuality researcher, and is Co-Director of the Program for the Study of LGBT Health in the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health. He is a Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry and Nursing) at Columbia University and is Co-Director of the Center for Evidence-based Practice in the Underserved. He is past president and fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and served on the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine Committee on LGBT health issues, research gaps and opportunities.

Suzanne Bost is Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. Her specialty area includes American Literature, Latina/o studies, feminist theory, and cultural studies. She has served as the Graduate Program Director for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, and the Ethnic Studies Representative to the Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly.

Wendy Bostwick, PhD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations, with a focus on mental health and substance use among bisexual women. Her current work explores how microaggressions associated with race, gender, sexual orientation and their intersection affect bisexual women’s mental and physical health.

Aaron Breslow is a doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University with ten years of experience in HIV prevention and care. His work is an intersection of research interests in HIV criminalization, minority stress, and community-led psychosocial intervention. Breslow is currently fulfilling a clinical externship within the Lucy A. Wicks Clinic for HIV Mental Health at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Melanie E. Brewster @melysebrewster is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University. Her research focuses on marginalized groups and examines how experiences of discrimination and stigma may shape the mental health of minority group members. Brewster also examines potential resilience factors, such as bicultural self-efficacy and cognitive flexibility, that may promote the mental health of minority individuals. Her first book, Atheists in America, was published in 2014.

Gabriela Cano @gabcano is Professor of History at El Colegio de México and specializes in gender and sexuality in Mexican history. Her current research focuses on feminism and transmasculine identities in 20th century Mexico. She has coedited Sex in Revolution: Gender, Power and Politics in Modern Mexico (Duke UP, 2007) and has published widely in Spanish. Previously, she chaired the gender graduate program at El Colegio de México.

Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture. Chen’s first book, Animacies (Duke UP 2012), argues for racial and other contingencies of animacy. A second book project examines race and disability’s entanglements in conceptual histories of toxicity and intoxication.

Christina Crosby, @christinacros Professor of English and Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, is the author most recently of A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain, a book written in the wake of spinal cord injury, pain and paralysis to make something of an otherwise confounded life.

Patricia Dailey is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia and director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.She specializes in medieval literature and critical theory, focusing on women’s mystical texts, and Anglo-Saxon poetry and prose. Her book Promised Bodies: Time, Language, and Corporeality in Medieval Women’s Mystical Texts (Columbia UP, 2013) examines the relation between gender, temporality, the body, and language in medieval mystical texts.

Darren Dean is the Award-Wining Producer of the 2015 feature film tangerine, a motion picture which broke new ground in the trans-culture discussion. With director and frequent collaborator Sean Baker, Dean has Produced and Co-Written PRINCE OF BROADWAY and Clio-Winning SNOWBIRD. In 2011, he produced the Sundance Award-Winning feature KINYARWANDA for Director Alrick Brown, which garnered him an NAACP Image Award nomination. He prides himself on works that look beyond race, gender and religious bias to tell stories with a social conscience.

Katherine Ewing is Professor of Religion, Coordinator of the Master of Arts Program in the South Asia Institute, and director of the Institute For Religion, Culture, & Public Life at Columbia University. Her research ranges from debates among Muslims about the proper practice of Islam in the modern world to sexualities, gender, and the body in South Asia.

Katherine Franke @ProfKFranke is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she also directs the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law and is the faculty director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project. She is among the nation’s leading scholars writing on law, religion and rights, drawing from feminist, queer, and critical race theory. Her most recent book, Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality (NYU Press 2015), considers the costs of winning marriage rights for same sex couples today and for African Americans at the end of the Civil War.

Jack Halberstam @Jhalberstam is Visiting Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books including: Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and has written articles that have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and collections. Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a short book titled Trans* and another book titled The Wild on queer anarchy.

Robert McRuer @RobertMcRuer is a Professor in the Department of English at The George Washington University. His publications include Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability and the co-edited collection Sex and Disability (with Anna Mollow). Most recently, he coedited a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on “Cripistemologies” (with Merri Lisa Johnson). His next book, Crip Times: Disability, Globalization, and Resistance is forthcoming next year from NYU Press.

Tey Meadow @dr_tey is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Her scholarship spans the domains of law, politics, the family, sexuality and gender, with a specific focus on the creation and maintenance of social classifications. Her first book, Raising the Transgender Child: Being Male or Female in the Twenty First Century, is an ethnographic and interview-based study of the first generation of families affirming and facilitating gender nonconformity in children.

Mignon Moore @mignon_moore is Associate Professor of Sociology at Barnard College. She has research and teaching interests in the sociology of family, race, gender, sexuality, qualitative methods, aging, and adolescence. Her first book, Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships and Motherhood among Black Women (California Press, 2011) examined the intersection of race with sexual orientation for family-building and lesbian identity among African-American women.

Zanele Muholi @MuholiZanele, a photographer and self-proclaimed visual activist, explores black lesbian and gay identities and politics in contemporary South Africa. For her series Faces and Phases (2006-11), Muholi photographed more than 200 portraits of South Africa’s lesbian community. Muholi’s sensitive portraits challenge the stigma surrounding gays and lesbians in South Africa, debunk the common rhetoric that homosexuality is un-African, and address the preponderance of hate crimes against homosexuals in her native country. Among other subjects, she has captured the survivors of “corrective rape”.

Sari Reisner is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also an Affiliated Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute where he leads a national and global portfolio of community-based transgender health research.

Juana María Rodríguez @RadioRodriguez is Professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and in the Performance Studies Graduate Group at UC Berkeley. She is the author of two books, Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (NYU Press, 2003) and Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (NYU Press, 2014) and has published numerous articles related to her research interests in sexuality studies, queer activism in a transnational American context, critical race theory, technology and media arts, and Latin@ and Caribbean studies.

Margaret Rosario is a Professor of Psychology at The City University of New York (CUNY)—The City College and Graduate Center. Her recent research has primarily centered on lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people because the unfolding of same-sex sexuality during adolescence and emerging adulthood is an experience for which most youth are unprepared, involves coping with experiences associated with society’s stigmatization of homosexuality, and has serious implications for health and adaptation.

Darren Rosenblum @DarrenRosenblum is a professor at Pace Law School. His scholarly career began with the publication of Queer Intersectionality and the Failure of Lesbian and Gay “Victories” and other novel work on lesbian and gay voting rights and transgender prisoners’ rights. Building on this work, he became an expert on the burgeoning movement for corporate board quotas for women, for which he received a Fulbright and presented his work at the French National Assembly. His current work uses critical gender theory to pull apart the category of women in the corporate sector.

C. Riley Snorton @CRileySnorton is Assistant Professor of Black Queer/Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. His research and teaching expertise include cultural theory, queer and transgender theory and history, Africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. Snorton’s first book, Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), traces the emergence and circulation of the down low in news and popular culture. His second book, tentatively entitled Black on Both Sides: Race and the Remaking of Trans History is forthcoming in 2017.

Karess Taylor-Hughes is a NY native who identifies as queer gender non-conforming (They/Them pronouns). Karess has years of experience working in political campaigns on LGBTQ rights and in both intercollegiate and professional sports. They earned degrees from both University of Maryland and Columbia University. As chapter co-chair of the Black Queer Feminist organization BYP100’s NYC chapter, Karess will continue pushing for more advocacy work in marginalized communities.

Steven W. Thrasher @thrasherxy is Writer-At-Large and Senior Opinion Columnist at the Guardian US and a Henry M. MacCracken doctoral fellow in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in American Studies. In 2012, Thrasher was named Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) for his writing in Out magazine, the Village Voice and the New York Times.

Angela Willey is Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts. She is a feminist science studies scholar whose research addresses the naturalization of coupled forms of social belonging and the conditions of possibility for the emergence and sustainability of alternate forms. Her area of interests include: feminist science studies; history of race, gender, and sexuality in science; cultural studies; sexuality; and monogamy.

Patrick Wilson @pwilson33 is an Associate Professor and the Director of the SPHERE (Society, Psychology, and Health Research) Lab at Columbia University. He specializes in exploring the psychological, social, and cultural contexts that shape individual and community-level health outcomes. His recent work includes examining institutional and community responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, designing and testing culturally appropriate behavior change interventions, and increasing cultural relevance in HIV/AIDS research.

Janson Wu @jansonwu is the Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and
Defenders (GLAD). He spent eight years as a GLAD lawyer doing litigation and legislative advocacy for LGBT elders, family law and parentage rights, employment benefits, transgender rights, and marriage equality, before becoming the Executive Director in 2014. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.


Members of the Queer Disruptions Planning Committee include: Rachel Adams, Walter Bockting, Melanie Brewster, Yasmine Ergas, Katherine Ewing, Suzanne Goldberg, Jennifer Hirsch, Sharon Marcus, Dennis Mitchell, Vani Natarajan, Alondra Nelson, Richard Parker, Vina Tran, and Sarah Witte

The conference is sponsored by: the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of the Dean of Social Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of University Life


Directions to Columbia University can be found here. A map of Columbia University’s campus can be found here.

For a map of on-campus gender neutral restrooms, please click here. For disability access map, please click here. The venues are wheelchair accessible. If you require other disability accommodations, please contact Columbia’s Disability Services at 212 854 2388.