Preaching to the Choir (PREACH), the largest North American LGBTQ+ psychology and related social sciences conference, took place in Toronto during Pride month.
The conference brought together more than 110 delegates from over 15 countries, creating an atmosphere that blended the intellectual stimulation of academia with the celebratory atmosphere of Toronto’s pride festivities.
Leading the event as conference co-founders and co-hosts were Dr. Karen Blair, director of Trent University's Social Relations, Attitudes and Diversity Lab in the Psychology department as well as an ambassador for Trent's Campaign for Momentous Change, and Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin ‘05 (Peter Gzowski College), along with the support of an international coordinator, Dr. Emily Harris.
PREACH provides an academic venue where scholars can ‘skip over’ the basic educational content that is often necessary when presenting to a broader, non-specialist audience.
“When I take my students to conferences, they often wonder what avenues exist in academia to make science more inclusive of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and families,” shared Professor Blair. “When they attend PREACH, they walk away invigorated by the experience and believe that they can build a successful and personally fulfilling career without sacrificing their genuine interest.”
This year, eight students and alumni from Trent got to participate in organizing or presenting at the conference, including undergraduate students Cindy Zhang (Otonabee College), Jenny Truong (Champlain College), and Kerri Mozessohn (Otonabee College), graduate students Bre O’Handley (Catharine Parr Traill), Melanie Gunn (Catharine Parr Traill), and Emily Comeau (Catharine Parr Traill), as well as recent graduates Hella Watkins ‘18 (Lady Eaton College) and Kavya Chandra ‘18 (Otonabee College).
Through partnerships with the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the American Psychological Association’s International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet), PREACH makes an LGBTQ+ conference experience accessible to all.
Journal of Femininities launched
PREACH fosters a supportive environment where scholars can freely share their research. This year’s conference celebrated the launch of the Journal of Femininities, the first and only journal to focus on unifying and cultivating the field of Femininities.
Trent University's involvement in the project extends to the training and hiring of multiple Trent graduate students as special issue copyeditors. Through a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant, students will gain valuable experience learning about the academic publishing process and industry.
The value of collaborating in-person
Following a shift back to an in-person event after hosting virtually during the COVID pandemic, Prof. Blair noted the value of face-to-face interactions.
“By gathering in person, we can address contentious issues within and outside the LGBTQ+ community with the goal of moving the field forward and providing a supportive environment for students hoping to build a career in LGBTQ+ research and service.”
Prof. Blair shared that this conference underscores the importance of creating an open, supportive, and collaborative environment for research and dialogue - something that would not be possible without those who supported the conference, including Trent’s Otonabee College, Trent’s Dean of Science, Dr. Holger Hintelmann, and the Campus Store.