Professional homosexual. Professor. Writer. Scholar. Activist. Husband.

Defending the need for separate queer spaces

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My Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree last weekend after owners of Camp Boomerang RV Park and Campground (a soon-to-open gay men’s campground in central Michigan) posted membership criteria that would effectively exclude transmen.

Owner Bryan Quinn posted to the campground’s Facebook group that membership would be limited to “guys,” defined as those who “possess a penis, presents himself as a male, and has state-issued ID that says ‘male.’” …


How NOT to respond when a bias incident is reported on campus

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I’ve been an advocate for diversity/equity/inclusion/justice (DEIJ)for LGBTQIA+ people on college campuses since (at least) 1992 when I was an undergrad at the University of Iowa. That activism continued into graduate school and my current position as a professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Illinois.

As one of the few openly gay faculty members on our campus, and a scholar and teacher of these subjects, I feel I have a special obligation to call institutions of higher education to account when they fall short of creating a welcoming, inclusive and supporting campus community for queer students…


The proxy war for transgender inclusion

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Note: throughout this essay I place certain words in “double quotes” to set them apart from other words in a sentence, so it’s understood they’re the focus of analysis, not my preferred language. My purpose is greater clarity, not invalidation of the perfectly legitimate word “cisgender” through the use of what are sometimes called “scare quotes.”

A few years ago I published a short piece on Medium (read it here) in which I argued that use of the word “cisgender” was an exercise in power in that displaces cisgender people from the social ‘center’ by naming what often goes unnamed…


Because school employees shouldn’t be funding education

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This morning I unfriended a coworker who complained because I asked some uncomfortable questions on one of her Facebook posts about the annual “Faculty and Staff Campaign” fundraiser at my university.

Every spring the University of Illinois Springfield pressures staff and faculty to make charitable donations to the university. Endless emails, notices in mailboxes, home mailings, etc. The campaign must costs thousands and thousands of dollars in employee time alone. 13 employees are listed as the 2021 campaign “ambassadors.” They work in addition to the 10 employees in our university’s office of “advancement” (i.e. fundraising). …


Asking for letters of recommendation

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Letters of recommendation are a standard part of any graduate school application. Yet, students receive little guidance in acquiring them. They don’t identify effective writers. They ask for letters too late in the process. They don’t provide enough information to help letter writers compose strong letters. This is especially true for historically under-represented college students — students of color and first generation college students — for whom the ways of college and graduate school can seem mysterious and impenetrable.

When I began to be asked to write for students, I got tired of typing the same email response and created…


The Personal Statement, Part Two

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🎓 This is the second half a two-part story about writing a personal statement as part of a graduate school application. Read Part One here. Read about requesting letters of recommendation (to support your grad school application) here.

You’ve done identified a handful of likely graduate programs, conducted some thorough research, and are ready to start writing. See Part One for how to use the application questions as a guide to structure your personal statement. But how to start the whole thing off?

That horrible first sentence

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: everybody, even those who write for a…


The Personal Statement, Part One

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This is the time of year university professors field requests from students for letter of recommendation to graduate and other professional schools. Application deadlines typically fall between November 15th and January 15th and I start getting requests in October. Writing such letters is a pain but most professors don’t mind. We wouldn’t be where we are if professors hadn’t written for us. And we enjoy helping students succeed. So we write.

Grad school applications usually require a personal statement of some kind and students seem to really struggle with these. Over the years I’ve seen the same problems many times…


The dog whistle of conservative women’s clothing

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I’ve been listening to the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett mostly via NPR so haven’t focused too closely on the visuals. But I’ve seen the images posted to news sites and social media.

I’ve been struck by the similarity in Barrett’s attire at all her public events: solid-colored dresses usually cut below the knee, with fitted bodices and shoulders, tailored waists, and a near-absence of decoration or ornament except for minimal elements in the same fabric as the dress. All with no or unobtrusive jewelry and neutral low heels. And pearls. Lots of pearls. …


Gender asymmetry in the trans acting debates

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My ears perked up earlier this week when I saw social media posts about Halle Berry’s Instagram interview where she discussed playing a transman in an upcoming film. Like many others, I cringed when I read some of her words:

I want to experience that world, understand that world. I want to deep dive in that in the way I did Bruised. Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project, and that will require me cutting all of my hair off…. That’s what I want to experience and understand and study…


Or, we could imagine forms of sport that don't just cater to the physical extremes of one kind of body. (Radical, I know!) Sports weren't handed down by Zeus from Mt. Olympus on stone tablets. We invented them and we can invent different ones that are more equitable and inclusive.

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