This report outlines my experiences attending the first International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Psychology Summer Institute, held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, 3-8 August 2008. This Institute aimed to provide for an intensive exchange of ideas among senior, junior and graduate student scholars located across LGBT psychology.
After an initial burst of enthusiasm leading to my successful application to attend the Institute, I later came to worry how I was going to cope with being immersed in 'psychology' for a week. Although I am currently completing my PhD in psychology investigating issues around gay men's health, I do not have a background in psychology - in fact I have only completed one undergraduate paper. Because of this and my 'critical' leanings I sometimes feel out of place studying in a psychology department and in the discipline of (mainstream) psychology.
Getting to Ann Arbor from Auckland is not a quick trip. It typically involves an overnight stay at the point of arrival in the US, or alternatively an overnight flight following a lengthy layover after arrival in the US. I chose the latter option, and after 48 hours of no sleep found myself at the welcoming function. If first impressions do count, then the friendliness and genuine interest in the work of others amongst all participants was immediately obvious - I felt this was going to be a very worthwhile event.
The Institute was organised around presentations by 10 senior scholars:
Lisa Diamond (University of Utah): Female sexual fluidity: Evidence from a 12-year longitudinal study.
Oliva Espin (San Diego State University): Lesbian among Latinos or Latina among Lesbians? Multiple identities as multiple sources of growth.
Peter Hegarty (University of Surrey): Alfred Kinsey and Lewis Terman: The co-construction of high intelligence and rational psychological science through a silence about homosexuality.
Li h -Mei Liao (University College London): Formulating psychological care for people with 'disorders of sex development.'
Allen Omoto (Claremont Graduate University): Psychological processes underlying community involvement and social action.
Mark Padilla (University of Michigan): Stigma, social inequality, and HIV/AIDS among LGBT populations: Theory and research on a pernicious intersection.
Charlotte Patterson (University of Virginia): Sexual orientation and family lives: Psychological perspectives.
Esther Rothblum (San Diego State University): Same-sex couples in legal relationships: I do, or do I?
Stephanie Sanders (Indiana University): Sexual identity and gender diversity in sexual behavior and the semantics of "having sex": Implications for research and intervention.
Leonore Tiefer (New York University): How analyzing the marketing of "female sexual dysfunction" (FSD) illuminates shifting constructions of sex.
Over the five days of the Institute each of these scholars presented a one hour colloquia session on an aspect of their research programme to all participants. They also presented either a two hour workshop on some aspect of her or his research work focusing on practical methodological issues, or a seminar based around selected key readings. The same workshops / seminars were presented three times allowing participants (in smaller groups) to rotate through them over the course of the Institute. In addition to these sessions each participant had an individual tutorial with an appointed senior scholar to discuss some work in progress or future research directions. Gregory Herek (University of California, Davis) joined the Institute via video link for a colloquia session (Beyond "homophobia": Thinking about sexual prejudice and stigma). An extended lunchtime session involved lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The workshop participants were 15 'young' faculty, 3 postdoctoral researchers, and 34 graduate students in various fields of psychology. …