Fairhaven Lecture Series encourages unique conversation

UW-W professor shares work on gay and lesbian lives in WWII

Shannan Lojeski, News Editor

“A World at War: Taking a Closer Look at WWII.” That is the theme for this semester’s Fairhaven Lecture Series.

Since 1983, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Continuing Education program has hosted over 800 lectures to thousands of people. Every Monday at 3 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters, 10 to 12 lectures are given at Whitewater’s Fairhaven Senior Services by UW-W faculty members.

UW-W Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Ashley-Barnes Gilbert gave a lecture Feb. 4 where she discussed the work of several scholars on gay and lesbian lives during WWII.

In her lecture Gilbert argued for two marked changes that occurred as a result of WWII.

“First, the need for service members during the war resulted in a relaxation of recruitment policies and a diverse and a diverse population joining the armed forces,” said Gilbert. “With the coming together of a vast set of young people from across the country and the stresses of wartime, many gay and lesbian service members met others like them for the first time, experienced community, fell in love, and fought the war. But the rise of identifying the homosexual as a deviant person rather than a homosexual activities as deviant acts, resulted in increased oppression for gay and lesbian persons during this period.”

As a result of this, Gilbert argued that WWII marked the exclusion of gay and lesbian persons from service which sparked the gay and lesbian liberation movement.

Roughly 25 people were in attendance at this lecture with the typical number falling between 40 to 50 people. While held at Fairhaven with most of the audience consists of senior citizens, the lecture series is open to the public to encourage learning outside of an academic environment.

“The Fairhaven Lecture Series is one of UW-Whitewater’s most long-lasting service and outreach traditions,” said Kari Borne lecture series coordinator and faculty for UW-W continuing education.