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Out in Front LGBTQIA+ & Ally College Conference

Join us on Saturday February 27, 2016 at Vanderbilt University for OUT in Front, the seventh annual LGBTQIA+ and Ally College Conference. Meet peers from across the state to share resources, develop leadership skills, and foster a strong community of LGBTQIA+ and allied student leaders.

OUT in Front is open to any currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students at a two- or four- year institution and folks enrolled in both traditional and trade school programs. The conference is free to attend.

The mission of OUT in Front is to engage students, faculty, and staff from across the region in issues relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community and society at large. Each year, the conference strives to connect both individuals and communities with resources that will help to enrich the lives of LGBTQIA+ and Allies in the South/Southeast. OUT in Front strives to enhance leadership development for LGBTQIA+ and allied students.

Conference Details


OUT in Front will be held on Saturday, February 27, 2016


OUT in Front is held in the Sarratt/Rand Student Center at Vanderbilt University.


The conference is free to attend. Though lodging is not required to attend OUT in Front 2016 we acknowledge that many will be traveling to attend the conference. Free lodging options are not guaranteed but we will make every attempt to place each attendee who request lodging assistance. Please keep this in mind when registering.



DARKMATTER is a trans south asian performance art duo compromised of Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian. Based in New York City, DarkMatter regularly performs to sold-out houses at venues like La MaMa Experimental Theater, Nuyorican Poets Café, and the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. DarkMatter was recently part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival as well as the Queer International Arts Festival. Known for their quirky aesthetic and political panache, DarkMatter has been invited to perform at stages and universities across the world.

Both members of DARKMATTER use they/them/theirs pronouns.

If you’d love to learn more about this dynamic duo, please visit their website at www.darkmatterpoetry.com and visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/darkmatterpoetry.

Conference Theme:

This year’s theme is (de)constructing: intersections, self, and society. Our goal is to explore the idea of queerness as a construction, established by our world, within ourselves, and everywhere in between. By engaging in introspection and sharing with others in our community, we will learn how to deconstruct our identities and (re)build a positive intersection between our own definitions of ourselves and those determined by society.

Conference Registration:

You must fill out the registration form if  you would like to attend the conference and/or attend DARKMATTER’s closing performance. If you are not a session presenter or community organization who is tabling, you must be enrolled in college or university in order to attend the entire conference. You can find the registration form here.

Note: In an effort, to ensure we have enough breakfast for all conference attendees and pre-made name tags ready, we highly encourage that you register by Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Please email francesca.e.walker@vanderbilt.edu if you have questions about registration.

Volunteer Opportunities:

If you are interested in volunteering at this year’s conference, please visit this form in order to submit your application.

OUT in Front 2016 Schedule at a Glance:

Saturday, February 27th, 2016
8:00am Check in & breakfast (provided by OUT in Front)
9:00am-9:15am Welcome & Opening Remarks
9:30am-10:30am Session 1 (DARKMATTER Plenary Session)

Protect me from what I want: a workshop on race, capitalism, and desire
This workshop is a space for both people of color and white folks to interrogate how our desires are informed by power, and to consider how to build genders and sexualities that challenge white supremacy and imperialism. We begin with a discussion of how desire, race, and imperialism are connected, and then move even more broadly to understand how beauty functions in relation to racist capitalism. This is a creative, intentional, anti-racist, and feminist space.

10:45am-11:45am Session 2 (concurring workshops)

  • Being Positive: Introduction to HIV/AIDS

This workshop will discuss many of the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS as well as the needs-to-know, such as regular testing, PrEP, diagnosis, treatment, living with HIV, and dealing with the stigma that goes along with it.

  • Telling My Story: A Composition Workshop

This writing workshop will explore how college students understand and assert their voice using both the poetry and prose of Black women writers and artists. With the words and works of Janelle Monaé, Odd Future singer, Syd the Kid, Alice Walker, Ntzoke Shange and Rihanna serving as imaginative fodder, students will explore how creative writing and movement can serve as tools for deconstructing societal stereotypes and (re) constructing authentic images of self, relationships, and community. Participants do not need to think of themselves as poets to participate.

  • The Cycle of Socialization and Reclaiming Identity through Art

This workshop is based on deconstructing the messages that have informed, exploited and founded our understanding of identity. This interactive workshop invites audience members to reflect on their own socialization and to reclaim and celebrate components of identity that have been oppressed, silenced, or tabooed. Art will be used as both a prompted platform for interpreting different messaging, as well as a vehicle for individuals to reclaim and reconstruct the folds of different facets of identity.

  • Deconstructing Couplehood

This workshop will be a crash course in polyamory and, more broadly, queer belonging and relating. Together we will deconstruct the “ideal” and privileged relationship (that is straight, monogamous, married or heading that way, presumably white and middle to upper class), and look towards the other myriad ways to love and form community. How do we form bonds? What types of relationships do we value (friendships, romantic, emotional, sexual, relationships to self, and to activities, objects, pets)? Where do we locate ourselves in our relationships? What role does communication, trust, transparency, and consent play in our lives and ways of relating, supporting, and being supported?

  • Seeking Mental Health Services that Work for You

Many college students who could benefit from mental health services avoid seeking them because of the associated stigma. Add being a member of an already stigmatized and marginalized group to the equation and a mental health system that is not always sensitive to the needs of such groups and you have the makings of what we clinically refer to as a hot mess. This session will equip participants with some tools that will enable them to be savvy consumers of mental health services, and will also be an open forum for discussing the state of mental health services as students in the LGBTQI community and allies find them.

  • Caucus: TGQ (transgender, genderqueer, non-cis)

This caucus is only for folks who identify as transgender, trans, genderqueer, or any non-cis identity to come together and connect on commonalities and experiences.

11:45am-1:00pm Lunch (On your own)
1:15pm-2:15 pm Session 3 (concurring workshops)

  • BDSM 101

BDSM can be an important aspect of sexual identity, but it is not often part of the conversation in academia. Let’s challenge that norm at this year’s OUT in Front and have a frank conversation about kink and the kink scene. This workshop will begin with a short primer followed by a Q&A facilitated by Mercury, Director of Nashville’s kink community center, The Mark. This will be a safe space to bring your curiosity, explore your uncertainties, and celebrate sexuality!

  • Access is Intersectional: Disability, Gender Identity, and Architectural Space

This workshop will explore the intersections of disability and gender identity through the case of accessible spatial design, in this case the design of bathrooms. We will discuss the questions that single-user, all gender, disability-accessible restrooms raise about the value of accessibility for multiple types of users, create a working list of standards for such restrooms, and visit a few examples of different types of restroom spaces in the conference building. The resulting list of standards will be used in an accessibility mapping project taking place on the Vanderbilt campus.

  • “The God in Me Honors the God in You” Paradoxes in Incarnation and Identity

Queer theology workshop, examining the incarnation (of Jesus) and how it’s paradoxes can aid us in our own constructions (and deconstructions) of identity in the areas of gender, race, and sexuality. We will also apply these principals to examine the intersections of the independent concept of self with the interdependent self.

  • Black and Gay in the South: an Intersection of Identities within the African-American LGBTQ Community

Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately impacted by HIV in the United States. Previous research documents the association between unprotected sex and psychological distress; however, neither the causes of the distress nor factors outside ofindividual characteristics driving sexual behaviors have adequately been explored. Research on Black MSM’s has yet to holistically address social and contextual factors influencing HIV-related risk and protection among this population. The purpose of this Workshop is two-fold. One object is to explore social and contextual factors contributing to the psychological distress of Black MSM and determine how these factors influence their engagement in UAI. The other objective was to examine how intersecting identities of Black MSM influence their mental health and sexual behaviors through their experiences with family dynamics, religion, and spirituality.

  • Caucus: Ace/Aro (asexual and/or aromantic)

This caucus is only for folks who identify as asexual and/or aromantic to come together and connect on commonalities and experiences.

2:30pm-3:30pm Session 4 (concurring workshops)

  • Impact of Violence on the LGBTQIA+ Community

We know that physical and sexual violence can impact anyone from any background, holding any identity. But we also know that rates of physical and sexual violence are higher in LGBTQIA+ communities. This is not a coincidence. This community is one of the marginalized communities that is more vulnerable to violence, specifically sexual violence. This workshop will examine ways in which LGBTQIA+ individuals are disproportionately impacted by violence as well as the specific needs of this community. Additionally, workshop participants will learn about how to support a friend who has been impacted by this type of violence, as well as the impact to a person’s physical and mental health.

  • Trans Voices

In conjunction with independent research, this workshop will focus on literal transgender voices in accordance with vocal inflection. Based on societal normalcy, certain genders are often expected to demonstrate a specific vocal range when speaking. This workshop will deconstruct the science behind these inflections and work to uncover the intricacies of voice intersecting with societal expectation.

  • QueeRx

The landscape of American healthcare has changed significantly in the last 5 years, especially with the 2015 Supreme Court marriage equality decision which expanded health care to thousands of recently legally-recognized spouses. Although we have made bounds of progress, the disparity in health issues between American LGBTQIA communities and the heterosexual population remains a significant chasm. Seeking healthcare can still be a daunting experience for LGBTQIA individuals, especially for those who have had an insensitive or discriminatory provider experience in the past. This workshop analyzes the interactions between LGBTQIA individuals and the healthcare system, and addresses the assumptions and barriers that frequently prevent queer and transgender Americans from getting the care they need.

  • I just can’t bi* it: How to Create Inclusive Bi/Pan/Fluid Student Programming

Have you heard of Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Pansexual Pride Day? Bi Health Awareness Month? The BECAUSE Conference? Does your university/organization have a specific bi/pan/fluid/queer/unlabeled (bi*) affinity group? Come to this interactive session to learn about existing bi* community resources and how to leverage them to create more inclusive bi* campus programming.

  • LGBTQI Advisors Connection

This will be a time in which any folks at the conference who advise, supervise, mentor, or seek to develop relationships with LGBTQI students can connect and share experiences, stories, and/or common goals.

  • Caucus: QPOC (queer people of color)

This caucus is only for folks who identify as queer people of color to come together and connect on commonalities and experiences.

3:45pm-4:45pm DARKMATTER Closing Performance
4:45pm-5pm Closing Remarks

To view our most up-to-date program book, click this link: Program Book — OIF 2016

For questions please contact Francesca Walker francesca.e.walker@vanderbilt.edu