UT students gathered at the College of Liberal Arts on Wednesday to discuss gender identities and strategies for handling discrimination in everyday scenarios.
The discussion was part of a “Queer on Campus” workshop presented by Peers for Pride, a campus program that teaches members theater techniques and facilitation skills so that they can conduct workshops and presentations exploring the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women. Members acted out scenes involving everyday conflicts of queer people on campus.
“I was really impressed with how many issues they were able to put out and address in just two scenes,” said Shouko Morikawa, a graduate student in clinical social work and previous member of Peers for Pride. “There were a lot of issues about various intersecting identities — for instance, the idea of addressing cisgender privilege.”
The group acted out scenarios including employer and employee dynamics and LGBT couple dynamics.
“[The scenarios also addressed] just how negative it can be to combat a shame-related statement with another shame-related statement,” Morikawa said.
After Peers members demonstrated the scenarios, audience members were asked to replace them in each scenario and reenact the scenes to try and find different ways to resolve conflicts.
Spanish and linguistics senior Lucas Cavasso said the most interesting part of the workshop was learning ways to tackle oppression.
“I think the opportunity to see people reenact the different ways of dealing with oppression was really helpful,” Cavasso said. “Kind of seeing how those play out so that maybe I can use similar strategies myself. Even if I don’t use them, it definitely made me think about different strategies for tackling oppression.”
The workshop lasted an hour and fifteen minutes and ended with the Peers for Pride mentors discussing multiple LGBT resources on campus, such as the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Campus Climate Response Team and UT’s Counseling and Mental Health Center.
Cade Karrenberg, a visitor to the University, said the Peers for Pride mentors’ depiction of power structures and sexual identities was very compelling because it accurately addressed specific issues regarding power dynamics among college-aged students.
“I think that especially in a university setting, dealing explicitly with power structures, because universities are wrought with power structures, is important,” Karrenberg said. “Understanding how different identities … play into those power structures can further empower, or depower, individuals and groups of people.”