GSS Colloquium brings queer scholar to campus

By Jake Tiger

Students, staff, faculty and special guests gathered on March 26 for Rider’s 42nd Gender and Sexuality Studies Colloquium, a day-long event centered around recognition and education on a vast range of topics, such as feminism, combat sports and television. 

The colloquium, taking place in Lynch Adler Hall, featured keynote speaker Margot Canaday, a professor at Princeton University, as well as award ceremonies and numerous student presentations on gender and sexuality in literature, pop culture and the real world, both presently and historically.

Canaday studies the history of gender and sexuality, with her most recent book focusing on how queer people have been exploited and repressed in the workplace, and how they were able to look out for each other during times like the “Lavender Scare” in the ’50s and the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s.

She started her keynote speech by talking about a lesbian woman in the ’50s who was fired from her government job because of her sexuality and ended up having to take work for much less money than her professional qualifications would have normally allowed.

Canaday encouraged queer students entering the workforce to learn when to be an advocate and when to “hide in plain sight,” as certain fields can be less inclusive of people with nonconforming genders and sexualities.

“Try to find the balance between being yourself and being safe,” said Canaday to The Rider News. “I do think the issue at this point is much more about trans people than gay people … Things are changing but it is very much still a ‘proceed with caution’ thing.”

Canaday’s book “Queer Career: Sexuality and Work in Modern America” is available to read electronically at the Franklin F. Moore Library, according to Professor-Librarian Melissa Hofmann.

Prior to the keynote speech, sophomore marketing major Saraih Reaves received the 2024 Virginia J. Cyrus scholarship for her academic performance and work on behalf of women and girls.

“I feel empowered to keep fighting for social justice and gender equality now that I have this support,” said Reaves in an email to The Rider News. “It offers a reminder that not only mine, but all voices count and have the power to truly create change, especially when they are raised in support of people who are underrepresented in society.”

After Reaves, Juanita Carroll, an administrative specialist for the Norm Brodsky College of Business, received the 2024 Ziegler-Gee award for her work in fostering gender and sexual equality as an adviser and co-founder of Tapestry, a student media organization focused on covering underrepresented populations and their place in the world.

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