Sign In & Introduction
The doors to Filling In the Blanks opened at 8:30 am- thirty minutes before the event started. When they arrived students signed in, grabbed refreshments, and then waited for the introduction speech.
Thank you to Lara Loewl (she/her), Brody Loewl (he/him), Mary Solano (she/her), Robert Marx (he/him), Lori Kersey (she/her), Dr. Tung (she/her), and Maya Krause (she/her) for helping with set up!
Thank you to Bass Berry Sims and Vanderbilt University's Women and Gender Studies department for providing the refreshments! As well as, Joseph Clark (he/him) for connecting me with Bass Berry Sims.
Volunteers (left to right):
Lori Kersey (she/her), Lara Loewl
(she/her) & Mary Solano (she/her)
Water and crackers provided by Vanderbilt University's Women & Gender Studies Dept. Candy provided by independent donors.
(Not pictured: Jason's Deli refreshments from Bass Berry Sims.)
Terrance Loewl (he/him) delivering the introduction speech.
Out of the Closets and Into the Streets:
ACT UP, Queer Nation, and LGBTQ In/Visibility
The first session was presented by Dr. Roberta Chevrette (she/her) from Middle Tennessee State University. She discussed two major players in activism for people with AIDS in the 1990s. She talked about the different goals and techniques of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Her description of her presentation can be found here.
Dr. Chevrette (she/her) talking to Robert Kannard (he/him).
The ACT UP movement staging a die in.
Social Movements In/Of the 1960s
Next, we heard from Dr. LaToya Eaves (she/her) who is also from MTSU. She presented information about the political atmosphere for LGBTQ+ people, activism, and major people in cities around the country. She highlighted James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, and many more exceptional queer activists.
One of the Top 40 songs played
at Stonewall Inn the week of the riots.
Erasure and Bias in Archaeology
This session was set up by Terrance Loewl (he/him) with help from Gabriela Ore (she/her), Dr. Tung (she/her), and Maya Krause (she/her). The goal was to create discussions on heternormativity (the assumption that everyone is straight), skeletal sex compared to gender, and gender roles in material culture. Terrance found articles that covered these topics and created discussion questions. Gabriela made a wonderful introduction video about Queer Archaeology. Maya and Anjeli Chapman (she/her) helped with the stations and facilitating discussion.
Maya and Anjeli reviewing content before the session.
Gabe's introduction video.
Robert K. (he/him) asked individuals at Filling In the Blanks about what they found most surprising, impactful, or interesting about the interactive session on bias in archaeology. It includes thoughtful answers from attendee Quinn (they/them), judge Don Schlosser (he/him), speaker Dr. LaToya Eaves (she/her), and founder Terrance Loewl (he/him).
Diverse Lesbian Identities in the 1920s
Last but certainly not least, Roberta Nelson (they/them) from Vanderbilt University's center for LGBTQIA life presented. They discussed the intersection of celebrity status and oppression that lesbians, bisexuals, and other queer women faced during this time period faced. Roberta included how this scenario was affected by a period of sexual exploration. They also talked about some activism and visibility movements by this group.
B.D. Woman's Blues was an example Roberta used of queer women's culture.
Panera provided by Asurion.
Special thanks to Kimberly Tate (she/her) from Asurion for joining us!
Skit Writing Competition
After lunch, students divided into two groups to write skits about some of the things they learned in the sessions.
The first group to go, assisted by Benji Kern (he/him), wrote a skit inspired by A Christmas Carol. Bayard Rustin was hesitant to be an LGBTQ+ activist. In his dreams he was visited by three prominent figures from the other presentations- Ma Rainey, James Baldwin, and one other. This group was very creative with props and delivered a hilarious show. The audience was crying from laughing so hard.
The second group, assisted by Kyle Odum (he/him), focused on Dr. Chevrette's presentation Out of the Closets and Into the Streets. They staged a "die in" in honor of their friend Terry who had died of AIDS. They talked about his life, demands for treatment, and statistics from the introduction speech. At the end, Terry shows himself and restates the first few lines about himself. Then the other three say "I am Terry" one by one. They changed the kind of tears in the crowd's eyes.
The judges were unable to pick a winner because the skits were so different. They both were equally thoughtful as well as tremendous ceremonies of the information. They were polar opposites yet held the same weight.
< Theater Group A (left to right):
Lilli (she/her), Fyre (he/they), Latiana (she/her), and Nicolas (they/them).
Theater Group B (left to right):
Zach (he/him), Brody (he/him), Robert (he/him), and Quinn (they/them).
Lara Loewl drawing the winner of the extra movie tickets.
Theatre volunteers: Kyle Odum (he/him) & Benji Kern (he/him).
< Group photo
Judges: Don Schlosser (he/him), Shae Crowell (she/her), Dr. Marisa Richmond (she/her), and Dr. Kristin Rager (she/her).
Terrance and mentor, Dr. Tung (she/her).
Afterwards, Terrance fell asleep waiting for celebratory ice cream.