URI to host Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Symposium, March 26-29

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Keynote speaker to discuss Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, repeal efforts

KINGSTON, R.I. –March 19, 2008 —The University of Rhode Island will host its 14th annual Symposium on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning Issues, “Connecting Communities: Looking Back, Moving Forward” on Wednesday, March 26 through Saturday, March 29.

Jason Knight will deliver the keynote address: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Personal Impact, Military Consequences, Public Reactions and Repeal Efforts.”

In 2005, Knight, a former petty officer 2nd class, came out as a gay man to the United States Navy. After serving four years as a military linguist and despite superior job reviews, the support of the other sailors in his unit and a commander who spoke in his favor, Knight was told he could no longer serve his country due to his sexual orientation.

Knight is now the communications associate for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in Washington, D.C., a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending discrimination against military personnel affected by the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. According to its website, the Pentagon fires two gay people every day. Nearly 12,000 troops so far have been discharged since the 1993 policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve as long as they don’t talk about their sexual orientation went into effect.

On Thursday, March 27, five talks ranging from “Becoming Transfabulous: New realities beyond the sexuality alphabet soup” to “Deliver Us: How Censors Target GLBT Materials” will be offered. Songs by Woman Spirit Rising, and the Raging Grannies will be featured at night. The documentary, “Anyone and Everyone,” which portrays parents discussing their reactions to having a son or daughter reveal he or she is gay will be shown and discussed.

On Friday, March 28, five talks will range from “The Complexities of Complacency: HIV/AIDS in its Third Decade” to a discussion “Ending Homosexual Poverty.”

The symposium will close with The Closet, a play-in-progress– featuring several monologues about the process of coming out and a discussion with the play’s director, Mike Miele.

For a full schedule of events, times, and locations, go to http://www.uri.edu/glbt/symposium/2008.