Meet the Director


Welcome Message from LGBTQ Studies Coordinator Lauren Vachon

Dear Students,

Given these pandemic times, I’m writing this message from my home, of course. There’s a cat sleeping on my lap and two dogs snoring audibly on the couch on the other side of the room. While it’s good to be home with my animals and family, I must acknowledge that I miss campus life deeply. I haven’t been to my campus office since March, when I raced in to collect my plants and other essential items just hours before they locked Cartwright Hall. Just a week earlier, the busy part of the semester had been ramping up, and I was engaged in all the work of campus life: teaching, seeing students in my office, developing new courses. How little I understood the drastic changes coming.

So much has happened since that March day when I rescued my office plants and said goodbye to my on-campus space. We finished out a tough semester online together – pat yourselves on the back for hanging in there, and for pulling through, in spite of everything. Probably none of us performed perfectly – I know I didn’t – but we got it done, and hopefully we drew some valuable lessons from the challenges we faced.

As we move forward together, I hope we can find ways to connect, even if we’re not in each other’s presence very often. Students in the LGBTQ Studies minor program – and all the students in my classes – are quite literally the lifeblood of the minor program. You are the reason I do what I do – teach, innovate, design new courses. In spite of the pandemic, we are continuing to look ahead and work hard to make our programs better. The LGBTQ Research Methods (LGBT 41198) online course is new for Fall – and it’s a great, interactive class where students actually get a chance to do real research by collecting the oral histories of LGBTQ people. And, because the course is online, and the oral history interviews are conducted remotely, it’s a great class for “social distancing!” I’ve also designed a special topics course about the pandemic called “Fighting Back: Queer Voices and Activism for Pandemic Times” (LGBT 20095). The course looks at AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s and explores its relevance to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s important to me and everyone at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality that we keep forging ahead, in spite of the significant obstacles that the pandemic, economic turmoil and social upheaval have set in front of us. Or, no – actually, I would argue, not “in spite of” these things, but “because of.” The field of LGBTQ Studies has much to say about plagues, about turmoil, and about social upheaval. I look to the field of LGBTQ Studies for ways to navigate these times. The lessons – of fighting AIDS, of activism, of social change, of working for justice – are all there, waiting for us to discover them.

Let’s discover together.

Lauren Vachon
Assistant Professor, LGBTQ Studies
Coordinator, LGBTQ Studies Minor Program
205A Cartwright Hall


Course Requirements