Monthly Archives: August 2016

Alumni Ink: Until My Heart Stops

Jim remembers, "I was a Marshall at the March on Washington in 1993. Behind me is the Washington monument and the AIDS quilt."

He remembers, “I was a Marshall at the March on Washington in 1993. Behind me is the Washington monument and the AIDS quilt.”

Jameson Currier 77C writes passionately about AIDS and its effect on the LGBTQ population. With candid sincerity in each of his 11 books and hundreds of essays, Currier is unafraid to expose his vulnerabilities.

To be a gay man in the latter part of the twentieth century meant coming to grips with a frightening, and often deadly, health reality. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, more commonly known as AIDS, had infiltrated the LGBTQ segment of the population with unprecedented reach. “The analogies that have compared the early years of the AIDS epidemic to trying to survive in a war zone were apt,” says Jameson Currier 77C. “For many gay men, each piece of news that arrived was like another bomb exploding.”

Currier, award-winning writer and founder of Chelsea Station Editions, lived through that difficult time of uncertainty. The New York Times Book Review has said of his work, “Currier is adept at drawing a fine line between the erotic and the tragic, and at telling stories ‘that although personal, are also stories of our community.’” Currier points out, “I’m not a graduate of an academic writing program; I found my voice one word at a time, often by trial and error, and often as self-therapy.”

Released last year, Currier’s book Until My Heart Stops is a breathtaking memoir that assembles a collection of more than 50 works of nonfiction written by the author over four decades, many which deal with the impact of AIDS on both his personal life and his writing. The memoir was a finalist for a Lambda Literary award, recognizing the literary achievements of LGBT books and authors. The title is reflective of a medical diagnosis Currier received: HCM or hypertropic cardiomyopathy, a condition of excessive thickening of the heart muscle for which there is no apparent cause or cure. Within the book, he thinks back to his state of mind in 1985 in Manhattan, when he was first diagnosed. “That had been a summer of fear for me, the year I hadn’t imagined myself living long enough to develop a heart problem because I was too worried about dying from AIDS.”

Until My Heart Stops is a deeply personal memoir that tackles some of society's most difficult issues.

Until My Heart Stops is a deeply personal memoir that tackles some of society’s most difficult issues.

Currier, who is HIV-negative, notes that while treatments have altered the course of HIV and AIDS since the early years of the epidemic, the impact it has had on the gay community remains. “The epidemic isn’t over for any of us who have survived the losses,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to me to keep telling these stories.”

Tackling Difficult Societal Issues – With Compassion

The journey to explore the issues facing the LGBTQ community in recent years has been fraught with challenges and landmark successes since that summer day in 1981 when The New York Times reported a rare cancer that affected gay men. For Currier, sharing truth came “in fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, grappling with issues and themes and searching for some sort of understanding to how the plague has shaped our lives.”

His first novel, Where the Rainbow Ends, published in 1998, details the timeline of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. In a later essay, Currier noted, “There are many reasons why I never stopped writing about AIDS. AIDS summons up the greatest themes in literature, among them sex and death and faith, themes that are universal and prominent in every life.” AIDS and HIV, he writes, “impacted my world. It has made me the person I am today. I write about AIDS because I am still alive.”

2010

At the Kutna Hora “bone” chapel outside of Prague.

Dancing on the Moon, his earlier collection of short fiction, was also groundbreaking. First published in 1993, Currier became “the first American writer to publish a full collection of short stories about AIDS,” the author recalls. While The Village Voice dubbed this work “defiant and elegiac,” for Currier creating the work was a cathartic way of dealing with losses around him.

With candid sincerity in each of his 11 books and hundreds of essays, Currier is unafraid to expose his vulnerabilities. He reflects in his new memoir, “I guess my time is not up either, I think, feeling the swollen colors of twilight now around me. The air is both warm and cold against the sweat of my back. And something in the universe has made me lucky. At this moment, I am happy and sober. This is something I can write about. This feeling. This is something I can try to understand.”

Editor’s Note: In addition to being the founder, publisher, and editor of Chelsea Station Editions, Currier is a senior paralegal for a media company in New York City and an LGBTQ activist in his own right.

–Michelle Valigursky

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Once-Silenced Voices Speak through Chelsea Station Editions

Chelsea Station Editions-Rose Frame Color @300 dpiLGBTQ literature has a new champion in Chelsea Station Editions, the publishing house founded by Jameson Currier 77C.

After September 11, 2001, “gay literature became a niche market,” notes Jameson Currier 77C. “I began to examine the place of gay men in the world, with a particular focus on the crimes and injustices committed against us individually and as a community.” Currier, a writer known for his perceptive observations and unflinchingly raw honesty about the AIDS epidemic, knew he could take action to make a difference in the LGBTQ world.

CS Mag coverChelsea Station Editions began publishing gay and lesbian interest literature in 2010, and the following year the press launched the literary magazine, Chelsea Station, now a popular online destination. “The purpose of the press is simple: to promote and share literary voices that have never been found or heard before,” he explains, speaking as the company’s founder, publisher, and editor. “We fill a real need in the industry.”

Since its inception as a publisher, Chelsea Station Editions has launched more than 50 books by LGBTQ authors, many debuting their work for the first time. “What’s so rewarding is that our books have gotten attention from well-respected organizations like Lambda Literary and the American Library Association,” Currier says. “It’s been exhausting and exhilarating.”

Jameson Currier, Michael Graves, Charles Silverstein at the Rainbow Book Fair.

Jameson Currier, Michael Graves, Charles Silverstein at the Rainbow Book Fair.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about submitting your work to Chelsea Station Editions here. Follow the publisher on Facebook.

–Michelle Valigursky

LETTER FROM CO-CHAIR – SUMMER 2016

Hello GALA,

Change is in the air! As summer draws to a close and students arrive back on campus, Emory will begin the 2017 Academic year with a new President, new Provost, and new Deans of Emory and Oxford Colleges. At GALA, we are seeing familiar faces taking over new roles, with Ryan Rusiecki (13OX15C) as our new Steering Committee Secretary and Neil Vasudeva (’16B) as our new Executive Committee Member-at-large. We are also welcoming alumnus Joe O’Geen (’10C) back to the Emory campus as the Emory Alumni Association Staff Liaison to GALA.

I would like to thank Aby Parsons (’13G) for her fearless leadership as Co-Chair for the past two years. Aby has left a legacy in making Emory University and the State of Georgia safer, stronger, and more inclusive for the LGBTQ community. I am so honored that Aby will continue to lead GALA as Chair of the Scholarship Committee as I assume her responsibilities as the new Co-Chair of GALA.
With new faces and new roles comes a time to reflect on our past years accomplishments and focus on future opportunities. I’ve met so many of you over my 2.5 years in GALA, and I look forward to making new memories at upcoming alumni events. I am proud of the financial contributions GALA has provided Emory students, and am excited to continue empowering Emory students to pursue their interests in LGBT advocacy and scholarship. I strive to continue the great work done last year in communicating the purpose of GALA—who we are, what our goals are, and how current students, alumni and friends can join us in shaping an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ Emory community.

Come join us and make your voice heard at our monthly Steering Committee meetings, or enjoy a fabulous brunch at our annual Blue Jean Brunch during homecoming weekend. There are so many ways get involved with GALA – your LGBTQ and allies alumni network.

In pride,

 

 

 

 

 

Markbradley Kitay (‘14B)
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumn

UPDATE FROM THE OFFICE OF LGBT LIFE

LGBTLifeThings have been busy here in the Office of LGBT Life as we prepare for the re
turn of Emory students to campus later this month! We look forward to having a successful fall semester under the leadership and guidance of our director, Danielle Steele. The Office has also hired a new Program Coordinator, Natalie Turrin. Natalie is working towards her doctorate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory. She will be working with Danielle to advise Emory Pride, as well as coordinate Emory’s participation in the Atlanta Pride Festival and other programs.

Danielle and Natalie have worked hard this summer to put together an exciting series of events for the LGBT and allied community at Emory this fall. Our first event, the Office Open House, will be Thursday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 6 p.m. We are excited to welcome new students into our space with a beautiful rainbow cake from Metrotainment Bakery.

Then, the Office and GALA have partnered with Emory OUTLaw and Emory Campus Life to present “Love Wins: The Lovers & Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality” on Friday, Sept. 2, at 4 p.m. in Gambrell Hall’s Tull Auditorium. The event will include a panel discussion and book signing that features gay marriage plaintiff Jim Obergefell, Pulitzer Prize winner Debbie Cenziper, and Lambda Legal attorney Tara Borelli. Books will be available for purchase and signing will follow the remarks. We invite all GALA members to join us for this incredible opportunity to hear from the face of marriage equality himself!

Later in September, we will celebrate Bi/Pan Visibility Day on Sept. 23 with sugar cookies and pink, blue, and purple icing. We will also be hosting an Out in Law networking night for Emory pre-law and law students so that they can meet queer attorneys in the Atlanta area. If you have experience as an attorney and would like to participate in Out in Law during the last week of September, please contact the Office as soon as possible!

Looking even further ahead, the Office is already gearing up for LGBT History Month in October. Emory plans to march once again in the Atlanta Pride Parade on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. We hope that our alums will join us in marching through Midtown in solidarity with Atlanta’s larger LGBT community.

As always, alumni involvement continues to benefit our students. Contact Danielle Steele at dmsteel@emory.edu if you are interested in being more involved with the Office of LGBT Life. You can also keep up-to-date with our activities through our Facebook and Instagram pages. Thank you!

OUT ON CAMPUS – EVERETT ARTHUR 17L

Everett Arthur 17L hails from Orlando, Florida, and is the VP of Internal Affairs for OUTLaw, Emory Law School’s LGBTQ student group.  Everett also stars in the new hit HBO documentary, SuitedNeil Vasudeva 16B, serves on the Executive Committee of GALA’s Steering Committee.  Neil interviewed Everett for our GALA Newsletter.

Everett Arthur

Photo credit: Maarten De Boer


Neil:  Tell me a little about yourself — your background and coming to Emory, etc.

Everett:  I’m from Orlando, Florida, born and raised there.  I went to a small school in Florida for undergrad called Stetson University, and studied cello performance.  I ended up at Emory Law, and I had the choice between Emory and a few other schools.


Neil:  During your time at Emory, have you utilized any LGBT resources on-campus or found any that you particularly enjoy?

Everett:  I actually found a cool queer community of faith at Candler.  My faith is important to me, and it was nice to find other queer folks at Emory who are close to their faith.


Neil:  So tell me about your involvement with OUTLaw.  Would you mind sharing your experiences of being in the organization?

 Everett:  Yeah, of course!  OUTLaw is Emory Law School’s LGBTQ student group.  We organize events and are a safe space for LGBTQ folks. It’s similar to Emory’s undergraduate LGBTQ and ally organization, Emory Pride.  For the club, I am the VP of Internal Affairs.  My main responsibility is to organize parties and events for the club, including all the major logistics.


Neil:  Awesome! When did you get involved and how has it helped you during your Emory career?

Everett:  I joined OUTLaw and got involved as a 1L.  It was great because I met other queer people at the law school.  It’s great to be part of an organization that helps you feel part of a community as an LGBTQ student at Emory Law.  OUTLaw is a great community and gave me a sense of place at Emory Law.  Tim Holbrook is awesome.  He has been a huge advocate and mentor to OUTLaw.  So we have great faculty support as a student club.


Neil:  That sounds awesome.  What events do y’all have coming up?

Everett:  We are organizing some cool events over the next few months. In September, we have an event where Jim Obergefell from the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges will be speaking at Emory.  In addition, we may have an event around one of the tailors from Suited sometime in October.  So be on the lookout for that!


Neill:  Switching tracks slightly – what do you hope to do after law school?

Everett:  This past summer, I spent time working at the Transgender Law Center.  I am interested in legislation surrounding trans rights.  Over the summer, I spent time fighting the “bathroom bill” of NC – HB 2 – which was a very eye-opening experience.  It helped me figure out that after law school, I’d like to be involved in trans legislation/civil rights groups around that.


Neil:  Cool.  So tell me about your experience with Suited. How did you get involved?

Everett:  I reached out to the tailors and asked them if they could travel to Atlanta for a fitting, but they said at the time that they couldn’t do that.  I thought that was the end of it, but around two weeks later, I got an email from HBO, and they asked me if I wanted to be in the documentary.  I started talking with the director to see if it could work out, and he flew down to chat with me in person. I showed him around Emory and talked with him for a while.  The director took my information and showed it to the producers, and then we began production. I flew out to New York for the fitting, and the director flew down to Emory to get some shots of my life around campus.  It was a fantastic experience.


Neil:  What was the best part of the whole documentary process?

Everett:  I think the most interesting is that what you see in the documentary is all “first takes” – everything is very genuine.  It created a really trusting environment between all individuals.  I felt very comfortable and was able to be myself and feel vulnerable.  I gained a lot of confidence through being in the documentary.


Neil:  Great.  Thanks so much for sharing!  Is there anything else you’d like to share with the broader Emory community?

Everett:   Yes.  I would actually like to raise awareness about my personal Go Fund Me page – www.gofundme.com/everett-topsurgery. I am getting top surgery in February 2017, and any donations would go towards my surgery. The money would cover anything that isn’t covered by my insurance.  Feel free to share this!


 

GALA Event Recap and Updates

GALA’s busy summer social calendar began on July 15th as we visited the High Museum of Art for Jazz Night at the High. GALA was joined by other Emory affinity groups, so there was a large Emory presence at the event. Mellow swing melodies from Joe Gransden’s band filled the airy Robinson Atrium to the delight of the well-heeled audience.

After signing in and seeking refreshments, groups were taken on tours of the current exhibits at the High. Emory Board Member and Professor Julia Emmons was on hand to act as docent to the Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit. Dr. Emmons special expertise was evident as she is a former Director of the Atlanta Track Club,. Another popular exhibit was the art of Vik Muniz, a Brazilian-American artist. His art is presented in mix media that includes a theme when viewed at a distance, and then sets of related themes that emerge as the view approaches. This exhibit challenges your senses.

Blue Jean Brunch 2015

2015 GALA Blue Jean Brunch

On Thursday, August 11th, GALA visited Moe’s & Joe’s Tavern on Highland Avenue in Virginia-Highlands. Beginning at 6:00 PM, the cocktail hour was complete with great snacks and 25 thirsty GALA members and guests. Reluctantly, the party ended at 8:00 PM. For many of us, returning to Moe’s was a sweet dose of nostalgia, having spent more than a few hours at Moe’s during our Emory years.

Coming up on September 24th is our annual Blue Jean Brunch Fundraiser during Homecoming at Emory. The Blue Jean Brunch is our premier social event of the year. Please join us to celebrate Homecoming as part of our Emory GALA Family! You can register here.