CLGBTQE launches 'Commission Reads' initiative

November 30, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity (CLGBTQE) inaugurated this academic year its University-wide "Commission Reads" programming.

All commission members received at CLGBTQE’s orientation a copy of Larry Kramer’s "The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me" (2000), which portrays the impact of AIDS/HIV on the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and 1990s. All members were encouraged to read the book and attend related conversations, films, gallery talks and library exhibits.

"The 2016-2017 inaugural Commission Reads initiative is an opportunity for CLGBTQE members and the broader Penn State community to engage in explorations of LGBTQ history and culture,” said Dana Carlisle Kletchka, curator of Education of the Palmer Museum of Art, and CLGBTQE’s Curriculum Integration Committee chair.

This year’s programming has so far included in October an evening with author, playwright, and LGBTQ health activist Larry Kramer and a well-attended book discussion of his plays “The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me.” The discussion was led by Christopher Castiglia, liberal arts research professor of English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; Kirsten Burkhart, executive director, AIDS Resource; and Christopher Reed, professor of English and visual culture.

"This initiative seeks to highlight LGBTQ cultural contributions and also involve all Penn Staters throughout the year in reflection and conversation on matters related to our community and the pressing issues it still resiliently faces, among which stand out equal access and treatment in health care and the discrimination many LGBTQ people continue to face due to their HIV status," said Borja Gutiérrez, faculty lecturer in Spanish and 2016-18 chair of the Commission on LGBTQ Equity.

Kramer told the Penn State audience that he became an activist because his friends were dying of AIDS and it was the only way to change a health system that ignored the HIV/AIDS health crisis.

“While we have already discussed ‘The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me,’ it remains available at University Libraries and there are a number of opportunities to learn more about Larry Kramer and his work, the advent of AIDS in the United States, and the ways in which artists and writers have wrestled with the aftermath of a particularly difficult episode in queer history," said Carlisle Kletchka.

The Commission Reads programming will continue with the shrouding of the iconic “Paws at the Palmer” on Dec. 1 as part of “A Day With(out) Art/World AIDS Day” to commemorate the impact of HIV/AIDS on the art community. Founded by Visual AIDS, “A Day With(out) Art” is focused on remembering the lives and work of artists who have died of AIDS, and increasing awareness of caring for those living with AIDS, as well as increasing understanding of HIV.

The Commission Reads programming complements the University’s "All In" campaign. The following activities are free and open to the public:

  • University Libraries exhibit “From GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) to AIDS: The Emergence of HIV in the 1980s,” a display of books and objects related to the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the U.S., located outside the Paterno Reading Room, Oct. 3 – Dec. 16, 2016.
  • Day With(out) Art/World AIDS Day commemoration with the covering of the “Paws at the Palmer” to recognize the profound impact of HIV/AIDS on the art community, Dec. 1.
  • Film screening of Larry Kramer’s "The Normal Heart "(2014), Jan. 26, 2017, 7:00 p.m., Palmer-Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art. Introduction at 6:30 p.m. by Dara Purvis, assistant professor of law, with Shushan Sadjadi and Brett Atanasio, members of OutLaw
  • Paper Views Gallery Talk: “From Realism to Magic: Looking Queerly,” curated by Anthony D’Augelli, professor of human development and family studies, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 28, 2017, Albert and Lorraine Kligman, Print and Drawing Study Room, Palmer Museum of Art.

For more information about Commission Reads programming, contact Dana Carlisle Kletchka at 814-863-9188 or dck10@psu.edu. Follow the Commission on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart and Destiny of Me book cover

    All commission members received Larry Kramer’s "The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me" (2000), which portrays the impact of AIDS/HIV on the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and 1990s, and were encouraged to read the book and attend related conversations, films, gallery talks and library exhibits. There also will be a film screening of "The Normal Heart" (2014), on Jan. 26, 2017, at the Palmer Museum...

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 12, 2016