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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#060--March 25, 1999; For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler 415/338-1665

Moving beyond homophobia: San Francisco State to host international conference that will examine anti-gay violence, heterosexism, and homophobia

April 7-9 conference will bring international scholars to SF State to explore these issues from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.

SAN FRANCISCO-- As the U.S. continues its heated discussion of enacting anti-hate crime legislation and against the backdrop of increased brutal hate crimes across the nation—many of them directed against homosexual men or Lesbian women—international scholars will gather at San Francisco State April 7-9 to explore the causes of anti-gay violence and the issue of how these phenomena should be addressed by society.

Titled "Beyond Homophobia: Rethinking Anti-Gay Violence, Heterosexism, and Homophobia," the three-day conference will be held at San Francisco State’s Seven Hills Conference Center and is sponsored by the University’s Human Sexuality Studies Program.

"American society is ready to change its definition of human nature to include Lesbians and gays," says anthropologist Gilbert Herdt, chair of the Human Sexuality Studies Program at SF State, and one of the key conference organizers. "A generation ago it was ready to include blacks. I believe American society is now ready to include gays and Lesbians as human beings, as well," Herdt says.

Research and knowledge in the area of homophobia and anti-gay violence have reached a critical turning point, Herdt maintains. "Although there have been significant reports and studies about these topics from many places around the world, including the U.S., there has been no scholarly or educational context in which the leading authorities have come together to distill the basic patterns of homophobia and anti-gay violence," Herdt says. With this wealth of accumulated knowledge, the time is right, Herdt maintains, for such a conference.

Policing violence against sexual minorities, Herdt says, represents a marked shift from the past. However, new social motivations related to the fear of HIV/AIDS, and the rise of neo-racist groups, as well as political aspirations of the religious right in the U.S., have seemed to inspire on-going violence against sexual minorities, or, at least, to support the continuance of homophobia.

Conference presenters will explore whether or not there is a set of historical conditions and a common cultural structure that produces homophobia. Herdt says that he suspects there is.

The keynote speaker is Gregory Herek, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, who will discuss sexual prejudice from 9:45 to 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7. Other topics that day to be explored during a series of sessions include anti-gay violence and masculinity in historical perspective, the nature of prejudice, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, HIV and homophobia, and the impact of homophobia on the life course. Presenters on April 7 are from the United Kingdom, Haverford College, Bard College, the University of Chicago, San Francisco State, and LaTrobe University, Australia.

Many more topics related to homophobia, anti-gay violence, masculinity, women’s issues, heterosexual panic, multiple identities, religion and homophobia, Christian conservatives and their preoccupation with homosexuals, domestic violence, and anti-transgender violence will be discussed during the following two days of the conference by a series of additional international presenters.

Advance registration for the conference is $125; on-site the fee is $135. Registration for students and seniors is $35.

For more information about the conference or to register, call 415/452-6062. Additional information is available at the following website:

The conference is part of an ongoing series of events that mark San Francisco State’s centennial year. The university will continue its celebration of its 100th year throughout 1999.


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