ASDSA Lecture kicks off Pride Month.
January is Pride Month and as a part of the celebration the office of Sexual Diversity here on campus has put together a lecture series showcasing LGBTQ+ related research. What is special about this lecture series is that it is celebrating research that is being done right here at StFX by members of our community. Sexual Diversity Advisor, Bre O’Handley says that she believes it is very important to highlight the work being done in this area as it is so often overlooked or unknown. On Thursday, January 11 in Schwartz, as a part of the series, Psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair presented the research she has been working on regarding the paradox of modern sexual prejudice in a presentation entitled: “One of These Things is not Like the Other: Queers on Netflix, Prime Ministers at Pride, Increasing Anti-Gay Hate Crimes”. Her research explores the reasons why, in an era that is seemingly more supportive of LGBTQ+ rights than ever before, anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise. She discussed major themes such as narcissism, personalized prejudice and femmephobia, all which she has found play a part in the violent reactions that some individuals have to seeing LGBTQ+ PDA (public displays of affection).
Blair’s study was conducted by showing groups of straight men pictures of same-sex male couples kissing and being intimate alongside photos of heterosexual couples, boring/ordinary objects and “disgusting” objects, then observing their reactions both physically and verbally. I was able to speak to a fourth year philosophy student, Colleen Murray, to discuss her reaction to the lecture, from the point of view of an outsider to the academic psychology world. Colleen said:
“Dr. Blair’s lecture was a phenomenal example of the kind of thought and research that critically examines the often confusing contractions and paradoxes that exist in the societies, cultures and minds that we study in university. As a student I was not only inspired by Dr. Blair’s presentation but I also learned a lot. Her work surrounding the personalization of prejudice and femmephobia in terms of the influence they hold over individuals tendencies to react violently to same-sex expressions of affection articulated many of the vague ideas and potentials that I have considered on my own and in conversations with my friends. Femmephobia was a term I had not yet been exposed to. It is interesting to see how the secondary status of femininity is a social and cultural idea that continues to cause suffering and violence in our society. Homophobia and homonegativity are present and pressing social problems and it is really important that we work towards understanding how such fear and hatred is manifest in individuals so that we can move towards a safer and more accepting society for those who have been cast as the “other” in the past.”
The lecture resonated with many who too often wonder about the paradoxes associated with prejudice that seem so stark in our society at the moment. Blair's work is so important in continuing to understand how we relate to one another and why all the work that has been done to promote LGBTQ+ equality is still stagnant in some scenarios. Over the past few years, Blair has worked with a number of students and says she is looking for more students to further develop the study with her in the coming years. The two students she has worked with thus far have used their findings as Honours of Psychology theses. Blair encourages students to contact her about the project if interested and jokes that “you don’t have to be gay to apply!”
This lecture was just one of the many exciting and fun events that are happening for pride month. Make sure to check out the X-Pride coffeehouse happening January 18th, the Queer Cabaret on Saturday the 20th, the LGBTQ+ potluck on the 21st and the Two-Spirit Identity Lecture on January 23rd, just to name a few.