Common Ground has the unfortunate reputation of being an organization that belongs to a small population of the Knox community—those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, and their highly devoted straight allies. We feel like this reputation betrays our actual mission and focus—to be inclusive of all and work as a community to create a safe space and educate ourselves and others about LGBTQ issues.
That’s why next week, from April 9-11, Common Ground is hosting Scott Turner Schofield’s three-day campus residency, which will include workshops, class visits, and a theatrical performance. We’re looking to you—artists, activists, performers, actors, members of Greek organizations, curious bystanders (and bistanders), and of course, anyone who sits on the LGBTQ spectrum—because we want you to get involved with Schofield’s residency.
We’re excited to bring Schofield to campus because he is a female-to-male transsexual, an actor, and an activist who has experienced many dimensions of the identity spectrum. In his own words: “The fact is, everybody has a gender identity—whatever, and whoever, you do with it. We all go through stages of searching, isolation, finding, and fulfillment; we also all interact with family and community, race and class, sexuality, social norms, and difference. That’s really what my work is about.”
He tours campuses and communities all over the country, working as an actor and a social activist. He’s been working independently and professionally as an actor and activist since he graduated college.
We saw him perform one of his plays, Debutante Balls, last year at the Big Gay conference (a conference of LGBTQ organizations from colleges in the Midwest). We were really impressed with his beautiful and hilarious performance of his own autobiographical coming out story (in every sense of the phrase ‘coming out’), which serves to both entertain and educate the audience about queer and transgender issues. Schofield’s residency will culminate in a performance of Debutante Balls on the evening of April 11.
Our goal is not to sponsor his residency and performance for just our own enjoyment. Activists of all persuasions will learn new techniques and tools from Schofield’s experience. Furthermore, we want to attract everyone who wants to be an ally for transgender people (and queer people in general), but doesn’t know how. Rather than subject ourselves to some dense readings on gender theory, let’s actually learn from a real live person who educates and entertains for a living (and who was endorsed by Kate Bornstein).
Schofield is coming to do more than just put on a show. He will be offering two workshops during his residency here. The first, titled “Page to Stage: Making Performance for Social Change,” is geared towards artists and activists who want to use their art to create social change. He has years of experience doing this himself.
His second workshop is called “Strange Bedfellows: Fraternities and Sororities, and LGBTQ Communities on Campus.” We are working in conjunction with Knox’s Greek community to offer this workshop. Knox is not the sort of stereotypical place where you would expect to see LGBTQ students excluded from Greek organizations or routinely hazed. However, we look forward to offering this workshop to bridge the communication gap between these two communities that has arisen simply because so few students are active members of both Greek and LGBTQ organizations on campus. The workshop will be Friday, April 9. That’s not to say there aren’t any Greeks who are queer—in fact, there are openly gay members of both fraternities and sororities here. We also hope to discuss rising issues such as transgender inclusion in the Greek system.
We couldn’t be more thrilled about Schofield coming to Knox—we think that, hands down, this is the coolest thing Common Ground has done in recent years. We hope you’ll partake of the fabulous opportunities offered during his residency, and join us in welcoming him to Knox (if only for a few days.)
The Gay BLT is a group of Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender and straight Common Ground members who are committed to being out and open to the Knox community.
To ask a question or suggest a topic, email Michael Martínez at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a note anonymously to K-1374. This week’s contributors: Brittany Alsot, Ellie Poley and Zac Skinner.