Join CLGS and PSR online for the 16th Annual John E. Boswell Lecture, The Big Lie and Its Old Hatred with Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey.
American politics has long been a challenging system for its Black citizens. The fight to keep Black people from voting is a long and violent part of the American political and religious landscape. More recently in our history – with the push for marriage equality and abortion rights – the survival of Black families has become a wedge issue in major political campaigns. This lecture focuses on the ways Black queer bodies are used to leverage the aspirations of political candidates, church leaders, and power elites. It will demonstrate the ways the big lie – propaganda – is damaging the gains made during the civil and LGBTQ rights movements. While its primary focus will be the lives of Black queer women, this lecture will spotlight why all persons who believe in freedom and liberation must see this old hatred as a danger to all humanity.
Dr. Lightsey has been a cutting-edge church and academic leader in many ways. She is currently the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Constructive Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She will continue to serve in that capacity while serving at Urban Village.
Following service in the US Army and work as a civil servant, Dr. Lightsey received her academic and theological training at Columbus State University (BS), Gammon Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center (M.Div.), and Garrett-Evangelical Theological School (Ph.D.). After ordination, she served first as a United Methodist congregational pastor and then as a theological school educator, scholar, and administrator. Throughout her vocational life, she has been a leading social justice activist, working with local, national, and international organizations focusing primarily on the causes of peacemaking, racial justice, and LGBTQ rights.
Dr. Lightsey’s publications include the book, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Wipf and Stock), “He Is Black and We are Queer” in Albert Cleage Jr and the Black Madonna and Child (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), “Reconciliation” in Prophetic Evangelicals: Envisioning a Just and Peaceable Kingdom (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), and “If There Should Come a Word” in Black United Methodists Preach! (Abingdon Press).
The CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture
Praised and critiqued, lauded and contested – John Boswell’s scholarship continues to provoke questions, inspire new academic work, and, in many ways, set the bar high for LGBTQ religious scholarship. In February,
2006, CLGS brought together some of the leading voices in both academic and activist circles to consider the legacy of Boswell’s scholarship and the path it continues to chart for so much work that still needs to be done. CLGS was pleased to make that conference the occasion for establishing a special endowment fund to honor John Boswell’s life and scholarship by creating the annual CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture, which brings leading scholars in LGBTQ religious studies to the PSR campus each spring semester
In 1980 John Boswell published a book that historian of sexuality Michel Foucault called “a truly groundbreaking work.” Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century charted bold territory in both historical and religious scholarship, setting a new benchmark of academic excellence for gay and lesbian studies. Equally significant, if not more controversial, was his 1993 book, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, in which he tried to show historical precedence for the religious blessing of same-sex relationships.
In 1975 Dr. Boswell joined the Yale University faculty as an assistant professor after studying at the College of William and Mary and Harvard University. In 1990 he was named the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History at Yale where he later served a two-year term as the chair of the history department. In 1987 he also helped organize the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale.
Martin Duberman, founder of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, considered Dr. Boswell “one of the major innovative figures in gay and lesbian scholarship. John was very brave and pioneering. And very brilliant.”
Although John Boswell died from AIDS-related illnesses in 1994, his trail-blazing efforts in historical scholarship continue to shape and inspire academic, activist and faith communities of all traditions. The annual John E. Boswell Lecture honors that pioneering legacy.