Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA Conference - Keynote Address

Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA Conference - Keynote Address

Hanne Blank - What I Mean When I Say Rights and Liberation: Some Thoughts on My First 50 Queer Years

When writer and historian Hanne Blank turned 50 in February 2019, she started to reflect on how being queer and being a queer activist had changed over the course of the first half-century of her life. Born the same year as the Stonewall Uprising, Blank's queer life has run a wild and wooly gamut from the Lesbian Sex Wars to the resurgence of Butch/Femme culture, from the HIV/AIDS epidemic and ACT UP! to the national legalization of same-sex marriage and the existence of an openly gay presidential candidate. What can we take away from the ups, downs, sweeping changes, and retrenchments of LGBTQIA+ activism and queer existence in the U.S. over the last 50 years? What should we be thinking about as we strategize for an epically amazing queer future?

A recording of the Keynote Address is now available.


Hanne Blank, author and activist, writes books about the nexus of bodies, self, and culture. Joyfully spanning the town/gown divide as well as the mind/body split, her books include the histories Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality and Virgin: The Untouched History, the cult classic sex and body-acceptance book Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them, The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts, and numerous others.

She is an engaging lecturer about body image and body respect, as well as about the history and politics of mainstream sexuality. Her work has been featured in periodicals ranging from Penthouse to Bitch. Hanne is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Denison University and has taught in various capacities on campuses including Brandeis and Tufts. She lives with her partner of 15 years in a 175-year-old mill cottage on a dirt road in the middle of Baltimore.

She has spoken in venues ranging from the inaugural Femme Conference in San Francisco to Harvard University. Hanne’s list of talks includes: “Virgins and Other Indefinite Articles: Thinking Historically about Sexuality, Definition, and Experience,” “‘Mommy, Where Do Heterosexuals Come From?’ A Brief History of Sexual Orientation,” and “Learning from Big Big Love: What A Decade of Talking to People about Weight and Sex Has To Tell Us About Size and Sexuality.”

You can contact Hanne on Twitter @hanneblank.