Current Issues in LGBTQ Health Lecture Series

ISGMH’s Current Issues in LGBTQ Health lecture series focuses on highlighting important work being done in the field of LGBTQ health. Each lecture showcases the work of a different speaker or speakers. All of our lectures are open to the public to attend (as space allows) and available via livestream. Unless otherwise stated, our lectures are held in the Stonewall Conference Room at 625 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Several of our past lectures can be viewed on YouTube.


ISGMH’s Current Issues in LGBTQ Health lecture series is generously cosponsored by Northwestern Medicine.

Upcoming Lectures


Current Issues in LGBTQ Health – Joy Messinger presents “Our Survival Depends on Each Other: The Urgency of Intersectionality to Support the Health, Wellness, and Healing of LGBTQ Communities”

Thursday, November 15th from 12:00-1:30 pm | Chicago, IL

Past Lectures


Dr. Sari van Anders – “Sexual and gender/sex diversity beyond sexual orientation”

In this talk, I will describe Sexual Configurations Theory (SCT; van Anders, 2015), a broad framework for studying diverse partnered sexualities as well as individual gender/sex. SCT is an award-winning new theoretical framework built on feminist, queer, trans, intersectional, and bioscience perspectives. I explicitly designed SCT to be relevant to marginalized sexual lived experiences and both minority and majority sexualities. SCT provides ways for individuals to distinguish between sexual interests and behaviors based on gender (e.g., social presentation), sex (e.g., body shape), and gender/sex (e.g., identities) as well as those not based on any of these factors (e.g., person-not-gender sexuality), while allowing participants to define what these terms mean to them. SCT also provides a method for delineating nurturant and erotic connections, as well as partner number sexuality (including no sexual interest in others). In addition, I will discuss how we have used SCT in research and in public dissemination efforts, including a zine. And, I will discuss the possibilities I see for SCT in health-related research.

Read more about Dr. van Anders’ lecture. 

Dr. Héctor Carrillo – “Rethinking Sexual Migration: Shifting Sexualities and Health Implications”

How do migrants’ sexualities change as a result of their transnational relocation? In a lecture on his book, Pathways of Desire, Héctor Carrillo brings us into the lives of Mexican gay men who have left their home country to pursue greater sexual autonomy and sexual freedom in the United States. Carrillo brings our attention to the full arc of these men’s migration experiences, from their upbringing in Mexican cities and towns, to their cross-border journeys, to their incorporation into urban gay communities in American cities and their sexual and romantic relationships with American men. These men’s diverse and fascinating stories demonstrate the intertwining of sexual, economic, and familial motivations for migration.

Read more about Dr. Carrillo’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Dr. E. Patrick Johnson – “The Beekeeper: Performing Black Southern Women Who Love Women”

This lecture/performance is based on oral histories of black Southern women who desire women. Dr. Johnson will discuss some of the methodological challenges of being a man conducting research on women, and will also cover some of the topics that he found to be common among many of the women he interviewed. In addition, Johnson will perform excerpts from some of the oral histories.

Read more about Dr. Johnson’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Dr. Carlos Gallo – “Analyzing linguistic style in text messages for an HIV prevention program”

This lecture will describe computational linguistic methods that analyze the linguistic style of AMSM in order to optimize peer-to-peer platforms of HIV prevention programs. Also, these methods can inform ways to tailor scripted messages to the linguistic context of the peer-to-peer conversation in an efficient, scalable, non-obtrusive, and automatic manner. In summary, this lecture will demonstrate examples where computational linguistic methods could improve the implementation of future generation mHealth HIV interventions.

Read more about Dr. Gallo’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Dr. Dustin Duncan – “Spatial Epidemiology of Health Disparities in LGBT Populations: What Do We Know and What’s Next?”

This talk focused on existing research assessing neighborhood-level determinants of health outcomes and behaviors among LGBT populations, including gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). This talk also discussed the limitations of current approaches to studying the influence of neighborhoods on health, focusing on methods and approaches used to define neighborhoods and measure their characteristics. It explored emerging methods aimed at addressing these limitations, including the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in neighborhoods and health research.

Read more about Dr. Duncan’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

E.J. Graff – “How the amazingly awkward, ever-shifting LGBTQ acronym got foisted on you — and why it won’t go away any time soon”

The ways that we think and talk about sexual and gender minority identities change with every decade. And those changes happen even though every culture and generation includes women who love women, men who love men, highly masculine women, and highly feminine men (and ever so much in between). E.J. Graff has been covering and researching this community for 35 years. In this lively (and funny) talk, she delves into why each generation, culture, economy, and era has a different language and explanation for impulses that remain relatively stable.

Read more about E.J. Graff’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Dr. Jennifer Brier – “How to Have History in an Epidemic: Can History Make You Healthy?”

As we approach the fifth decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we continue to have a pressing need for a useable and meaningful history of how people— across identity categories of sexuality, gender and race—struggled and fought to make minoritized communities healthy in the face of profound abandonment and opprobrium. In this talk, historian Jennifer Brier will detail a series of powerful examples of resistance to this silencing in hopes of sparking a conversation about how to imagine a future without AIDS.

Read more about Dr. Brier’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Dr. Kirsten Simonton – “LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care: Coming Out of the Margins”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are reported to be overrepresented in the foster care system, which studies suggest may be related to increased rates of family rejection or disapproval.  Rejection related to sexual or gender identity, as well as involvement in child welfare, places these youth at greater risk for many negative outcomes including mental health challenges, substance abuse, lower rates of family permanency, and higher likelihood of multiple foster placements and homelessness.  Understanding the physical and mental health risks in this population is critical for providers to inform best practices in the medical and child welfare settings.  Emerging child welfare practices are emphasizing early identification, safety in the foster care setting, and a focus on permanency.  Ongoing work is needed to ensure appropriate medical and mental health care, elimination of discriminatory practices, and supports for families of origin to move toward acceptance.

Read more about Dr. Simonton’s lecture or watch a recording of it on YouTube.

Eileen Pagán – “Supporting and Lifting LGBTQ+ Youth of Color Experiences.”

Eileen Pagán, M.A.T., is a boricua femme genderqueer art therapist and activist from the south and uses they/them pronouns. Eileen recently graduated from Adler University with a double masters degree in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling and began their career at Center on Halsted with the Youth Department. During their time there, they created a Clinical Youth Training Program that aims to support LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Rooted in southern community organizing and social justice, Eileen recently made a giant leap to Atlanta, GA and is currently working as an Art Therapist at the National Youth Advocate Program building LGBTQ competency in the foster care system. During their down time, they organize with local grass root organization Southerners On New Ground (SONG) working towards queer and PoC liberation in the South.

Read more about Eileen’s lecture.

Pidgeon Pagonis – “Intersex Stories, Not Surgeries”

Pidgeon (Chicago, IL) is an intersex activist, educator, and filmmaker. They are a leader in the intersex movement’s fight for bodily autonomy and justice. Their goal is to deconstruct the dangerous myths that lead to violations of intersex people’s human rights, including common, irreversible medical procedures performed without consent to make bodies conform to binary sex stereotypes.

Pidgeon has a decade’s worth of experience giving talks and facilitating intersex workshops around the globe. In 2015, they received the LGBT Champion of Change Award from the White House. They can be seen on the cover of National Geographic’s January issue titled, Gender Revolution. This past Spring, they instructed Introduction to LGBTQI Studies at DePaul University.

‘Intersex Stories, Not Surgeries’ encourages participants to grapple with the ways in which the Medical Industrial Complex (MIC) has consistently forgotten the first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath – First Do No Harm – when it comes to marginalized communities. While the MIC’s history is tattered with ableism, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia—this presentation will specifically highlight the ways in which it has violated intersex people’s human rights. For over a century, intersex people have had no voice in their medical “care” and “treatment”, which has lead to dire consequences. Key events throughout intersex history will be introduced to help participants understand why intersex activists across the globe have united to demand intersex bodily autonomy and justice.

Dr. Alida Bouris and Sophia Davis – “Maternal, Paternal and Religious Support and Rejection as Correlates of Identity Conflict and Depression among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth of Color”

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth report higher rates of depression than do their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Although research has found that spiritual/religious beliefs can confer mental health benefits to heterosexual and cisgender adolescents, this relationship is less clear for SGM youth. For example, whereas spiritual/religious beliefs may serve as an important source of comfort for SGM youth, these same beliefs may be used to stigmatize or reject young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), thus creating a potential source of identity conflict. In this talk, we present preliminary findings from a working paper that examines the direct and indirect relationships between maternal, paternal, and religious support and rejection, identity conflict and depression in a sample of 90 SGM youth of color aged 16 – 19 years old (M = 18.5 years; 79.1% Black/African American). Youth reported on their perceptions of depression, maternal and paternal support, communication, and warmth, and the extent to which their religion was a source of comfort, rejection, acceptance and identity conflict. Results suggest that identity conflict is related to depression and that paternal communication may play a particularly complicated role. Future implications for research and clinical practice are discussed

Watch a recording of this talk on YouTube.

Dr. Paul Vasey – “Beyond the Binary: What the West can Learn from Non-Western Approaches to Gender Diversity”

In many cultures, worldwide, more than two genders are recognized. In such places, individuals exist that are perceived as being neither men, nor women. Instead, such individuals are recognized as “third” genders. The speaker, Dr. Paul L. Vasey, works in two such cultures. Since 2003, he has conducted research in the south Pacific island nation of Samoa, where feminine same-sex attracted males are recognized as a third gender, known locally as fa’afafine. Since 2015, he has worked in the Istmo region of Oaxaca, Mexico, where feminine same-sex attracted males are recognized as a third gender, known locally by the indigenous Zapotec as muxes. Dr. Vasey will describe his research in both these cultures that illuminate the role third gender males play within the family.

Watch a recording of this talk on YouTube.

Dr. Brian Dodge – “Bisexual Health: Risk and Beyond”

Dr. Brian Dodge’s presentation provides an overview of empirical evidence on health concerns and disparities among bisexual individuals, relative to heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals. He also explores priority areas for future research and intervention efforts focused on improving health among diverse bisexual individuals and communities.

Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles – “Queer Aging”

As the first generation of gay men enters its autumn years, these men’s responses to the physical and emotional tolls of aging promise to be as revolutionary as their advances in AIDS and civil rights activism. Older gay men’s approaches to friendship, caregiving, romantic and sexual relationships, illness, and bereavement is upending conventional wisdom regarding the aging process, LGBTQ communities, and the entire field of gerontology.

Read more about Dr. Ramirez-Valles’ lecture.