This spring Women’s Studies will feature a new speaker series called Queer in Appalachia.

“The series will consist of four Appalachian artists and scholars who testify through their work to the complex joys and difficulties of inhabiting the mountains and hollers of our communities while living as queer, transgender or gender nonconforming,” said Sheri LaDuke, a graduate assistant at the Women’s Studies office.

Each speaker has an Appalachian cultural heritage and unique experience in his or her field that relates to humanities.

Delanna Reed, who is scheduled to speak on March 2, has a background in performing and public speaking that led her to teach in the ETSU storytelling program.  According to Reed’s bio, “her research emphasis on social justice issues will remain a central focus” to her.  Although she is originally from Texas, Reed has “adopted Tennessee as her home.”

Rachel Garringer, a native from southern West Virginia will speak on April 8. Garringer also has a background in oral history and storytelling.

Jeff Mann, who is scheduled to speak on April 14, is a creative writing teacher at Virginia Tech with an extensive amount of published work in various written forms. He grew up in both Virginia and West Virginia.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson will also be speaking, but the date of her program is yet to be announced. Henderson is an alumni of ETSU and was involved in several programs while attending the university.  Today, Woodard Henderson works as an activist in many different fields.

The series is being presented by the Department of Women’s Studies in collaboration with FMLA, HEROES and the Department of Literature and Language.  The Department of Women’s Studies is hoping to further this collaboration with even more departments and organizations.

The Department of Women’s Studies says that the program “has something for everyone to relate to,” regardless of sexual orientation or gender.  All of the speakers are qualified in their fields and commonly share ETSU’s Appalachian heritage.

The Queer in Appalachia series aims to “encourage a positive campus climate and showcase the works of fellow queer and gender nonconforming artists and scholars,” LaDuke said.