4th Annual IFO LGBTQ+ Conference Recap

Drs. Shannon J. Miller, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Mel Michelle Lewis (left to right) joined the Inter Faculty Organization as keynote speakers .

Drs. Shannon J. Miller, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Mel Michelle Lewis (left to right) joined the Inter Faculty Organization as keynote speakers.

On March 27th, 2019, the LGBTQ+ IFO Statewide Committee held the fourth LGBTQ+ Conference: “Digging In, Shoulder to Shoulder: Liberation is an Inside Job.” The theme of the Conference evolved from a joint equity caucus meeting at IFO’s last Delegate Assembly: to center the voices and work of marginalized faculty in order to improve working conditions for all faculty. 

The morning opened with concurrent sessions: while allies attended Safe Space Training, LGBTQ faculty met as a LGBTQ+ Caucus. The caucus developed several proposed resolutions for the IFO 2020 Delegate Assembly, and they recognized Dr. Shannon Norman of Bemidji State University as the new LGBTQ+ IFO Statewide Committee chair.

In Dialogue, Drs. Mel Michelle Lewis and Shannon Miller shared from their recent article, “How Does It Feel to be a Problem? A Conversation between Two Feminist Black Queer Femme Chairs” published in the 2018 Feminist Formations Special Issue: Feminist Teaching for Social Justice. They demonstrated through their stories and in real time the power and effectiveness of partnership for support, leadership and social justice.

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs led the Forum “‘Same Corner of an Alien Heaven': Building Our Capacity for Truthtelling,” which grounded union solidarity and grassroots organizing in the brilliance of June Jordan and Audre Lorde. Dr. Gumbs challenged us to engage creatively and powerfully in the practice of truthtelling. 

Those who attended described the presenters as “awesome” and “outstanding” and appreciated “being pulled in and engaged and challenged.” One attendee summed it up: “So much learning to do; so much work to do. This is not an intellectual exercise.” The Conference’s success would not have been possible without the support and labor of the IFO and its LGBTQ+ Issues, Multicultural Issues, and Feminist Issues statewide committees.