February 11, 2008
A statewide project to connect young and elder generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Vermonters will premiere at Johnson State College, February 11 to March 3, 2008.
"The Dialogue Project: Bridging Generations of LGBTQ Vermonters" exhibit at the college's Julian Scott Memorial Gallery will include an opening reception and gallery talk February 13, at 3 p.m., when many of participants in the project will be present. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
The exhibit features interviews and interpretative artwork in a range of mixed media, sound and imagery, and will be attended by participating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders and youth, and local Vermont artists who interpreted their stories.
Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The exhibit marks the end of a two-phase project coordinated by the RU12? Community Center in Burlington (RU12? stands for Are You One Too?).
In 2005, two LGBTQ youth groups were asked what they wanted to know from their LGBTQ elders. Questions from the youth at Outright Vermont and the University of Vermont's Free to Be Student Group included: "Did religion or faith play a role in how you viewed your sexuality?", "How do you view younger queer folk and do you feel any responsibility toward them?", and "What is your perspective on the portrayal of LGBTQ people in the media and entertainment industry?"
Fourteen Vermonters over the age of 50 answered the questions from youth. Interviews were recorded, and 10 local Vermont artists were asked to make interpretive art pieces of the recorded interviews.
In 2007, the second phase of the project reversed the cycle, giving LGBTQ elders the chance to ask their youth counterparts about their lives. Some questions that the LGBTQ elder group at the RU12?
Community Center questions posed to youth included: "Do you see identifying as LGBTQ as a civil rights issue?", "What has the impact of HIV/AIDS had on your life?", "Would your coming out process be different if you did not have the Internet?" and "What do you expect your life to be like when you are 65?"
"Both phases of this exciting project will be exhibited for the first time together making this a true dialogue," said RU12? Executive Director Kara DeLeonardis. "This is the first project in Vermont documenting the lives and contributions of LGBTQ elders and youth in Vermont. We are proud to sponsor a project that brings to life the stories of Vermont's gay rights pioneers as well as stories of LGBTQ people growing up in local Vermont communities between the 1940s and 1980s."
The exhibit is a celebration of LGBTQ experiences past and present and includes excerpts from the interviews, pieces from the Vermont Queer Archive collection and interpretive artwork. The recorded interviews are available for educational use through RU12? Community Center's Vermont Queer archives and copies are also housed and available at The Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury.
RU12?'s mission is to celebrate, educate and advocate with and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Vermonters.
IMAGE CREDIT: "Celebration of Tri-Cultured Life" by Robert William Wolff (36"x36," acrylic)