UC-wide LGBTIA conference hosted at UCSD for first time

    The 15th Annual Conference and General Assembly of the University of California Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Association was hosted by UCSD on Feb. 20 to Feb. 22. This marked the first time UCSD hosted the UC-wide conference.

    Anna Hrabak
    Guardian

    The conference, which is the largest annual gathering of LGBTI leaders in the western United States, featured lectures and workshops designed to promote awareness and tolerance for members of the LGBTI community.

    In her opening remarks, Acting Chancellor Marsha A. Chandler said that the conference “provides a much-needed opportunity for an open and honest dialogue about LGBTI experiences within the university and within the larger community.”

    In addition to the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the UCLGBTIA conference, attendees also celebrated the fifth anniversary of UCSD’s LGBT Resource Center.

    “It’s key for the agendas to constantly be open, but also for people to recognize that it’s important to keep issues on the agenda and not simply assume that someone else will do it,” Chandler said. “I think that is one of the real virtues of our resource center — they are very politically active.”

    Chandler remarked that an important foundation of LGBTI support has been established, but the activism must continue for the LGBTI community to reach its goals.

    “The University of California has taken an important position in [the promotion of LGBTI issues], but at the same time, the work in the university and the community must continue,” Chandler said. “It is not the time to sit back; in fact it’s much more a time to strengthen our efforts to combat the kind of discrimination and hostility that we see that is based on sexual orientation. This kind of behavior, quite clearly, certainly has no place in a university … it has no place in any society that is founded on principles of justice and human rights.”

    Andrea Arguelles, student co-chair of the UCLGBTIA conference, spoke of the origin of the conference’s theme, “Through the Looking Glass.”

    “I think it’s because it provides so much room for interpretation and is an ideal theme for a conference that aims to characterize a diverse, growing group of people,” Arguelles said. “It actually symbolizes the complexity of queer issues really well … [Lewis Carroll’s book “Through the Looking Glass”] embodies a much more in-depth perception of the world confronted and how Alice chooses to deal with the nonsense of everything and most importantly, her identity within it all.”

    Following opening remarks, Mitchell Katine, a partner with the Texas law firm William, Birnberg, & Andersen, L.L.P., delivered the Nicholas Papadopoulos Endowed Lectureship.

    Throughout his speech, Katine referred to various historical court decisions in the United States, both state and federal, that discriminated against homosexuals. The focal point of his talk was the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Bowers v. Hardwick, which he said exempted gay and lesbian people from the protections of the U.S. Constitution. That decision was recently overturned in the case of Lawrence v. Texas on June 26, 2003, in which a Texas statute banning homosexual sodomy was declared unconstitutional.

    “… Government officials and law enforcement had been protecting people and enforcing rights of people, save and except gay and lesbian people; thank goodness that is no longer the case,” Katine said. “That burden that has been used to keep gay and lesbian people down is no longer there — that means your future and the future of my children are going to be free of that terrible decision to go forward and do things.”

    Katine also stressed the necessity for activists, college students and the younger generation as a whole to take an interest in any injustices to the gay and lesbian community and act to change them.

    “It is very important for you to understand that this is real life; these things I’m talking about affect real people,” Katine said. “We’re not in a class examining esoteric issues … I want you to think about how this is impacting your lives and the lives of other people. These things are real and you have an opportunity like no other generation has had to do something about it.”

    The conference featured many activities in its three-day span. Participants spent Feb. 21 partaking in five workshop sessions, watching movies at Price Center Theatre and a attending a late-night “Alice in Wonderland” Dance in Price Center Ballroom. The conference concluded on the morning of Feb. 22 with a sixth and final workshop session. Each participant could choose from approximately ten different programs for each session.

    “I found it to be a very comfortable atmosphere,” Revelle College sophomore Geraldine Lin said. “Everyone was very accepting.”

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