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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Staying Queer-positive

Stony Brook just got sexier.

On Thursday, April 30, in Humanities 1006, former sex worker/gay activist/performance artist and the first porn star to get a PhD, Annie Sprinkle gave a talk as part of the Second Annual Queer Symposium.

Dr. Sprinkle talked about her life, growing up as a young hippie, moving to New York, becoming a sex worker, and then her transition into performance art and sex awareness.

With photos and film clips, in addition to a lot of verve and energy, Dr. Sprinkle ad-libbed her talk in a magenta, floor-length dress to a packed audience in the Humanities lecture hall.

She even got the mixed audience of undergraduates, graduate students and professors to raise their hands to several questions, including “Who here masturbates?”

Dr. Sprinkle kept the talk informal and interactive by encouraging the audience to call out what they thought the word “queer” meant, as well as asking them to shout “That’s queer!” during the talk when anything came up that seemed somehow queer.

Throughout the talk, which was sponsored by the Women’s Studies Department, the Graduate Student Organization, the Art History Department as well as the Dialogues Across Differences Grant, Dr. Sprinkle encouraged open-mindedness and acceptance as goals of her work throughout her life.

She was active in promoting safe sex during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, in addition to working for a union for sex workers and the decriminalization of prostitution. Her projects now focus on love, and, in a world focused on sex and violence, Dr. Sprinkle says “love is very queer” now.

This ongoing project, which she works on with her partner Elizabeth Stephens, is the Love Art Laboratory. Each year Sprinkle and Stephens go to a different part of the globe to participate in “art weddings” based on the different chakras of the body. This year’s wedding will be in June in Oxford, England, and they will be marrying the sky, with a focus on the color blue. Later they will go to Venice and marry the ocean.

According to its website (www.anniesprinkle.org), the Love Art project is a “response to the violence of war, the anti-gay marriage movement, and our prevailing culture of cynicism.”

Following Dr. Sprinkle’s talk was another talk by Sprinkle’s long-time friend and author Veronica Vera, sponsored by the undergraduate LGBTQA, who came to talk about the world’s first cross-dressing academy in New York.

The academy is called Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls. Vera talked about her own life and how the academy got started, as well as who goes there and what kind of “fantasy projects” the school helps its “pupils” fulfill.

The talks were an excellent addition to the various speakers who come to campus each year. Both Sprinkle and Vera emphasized values of acceptance and open-mindedness in ways that were fun, imaginative, and creative.

We can only hope that such talks will be more frequent on campus in the future.

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