David Haleperin will focus on the non-relationship between sex and love, modern languages and literature assistant professor Brian Kennelly.
The Cal Poly community will welcome one of the big names in sexuality theory Monday, as University of Michigan professor David Halperin visits San Luis Obispo to speak about sex, sexual orientation and his latest book, “How to Be Gay.”
“This guy is huge in the theory of sexuality and gay and lesbian studies, so the opportunity to have him come to our campus is pretty unparalleled,” modern languages and literature assistant professor Brian Kennelly said.
Halperin is a professor of the history and theory of sexuality at University of Michigan and has published extensively on the topic of homosexuality. He will give a presentation titled “What Is Sex For?” at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in Chumash Auditorium.
“He will be focusing on the relationship — or rather non-relationship — between sex and love,” Kennelly said. “We’re all sexual beings — sexuality defines us, so if I were a student I’d be curious to find out what this man has to say about sex and sexuality.”
Kennelly first suggested bringing Halperin to Cal Poly after he read his 2012 book “How to Be Gay.” At the time, he was chair of the LGBTQIA Faculty Staff Association, a newly-formed organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and ally employees at Cal Poly.
“I thought it would be important for us as a new organization to educate the campus, and not just about the right to get married and things like that, but something more academic,” Kennelly said.
Students who cannot attend the Monday night talk or are curious to find out more will have opportunities to meet him after the main event. Halperin will have an informal discussion about his book with the Walt Whitman Gay Men’s Book Club at the San Luis Obispo GALA Center at 8 p.m. on Monday. He will then visit the Pride Center on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to meet with interested students. All of these events are open to the public, Kennelly said.
Halperin is not the first notable speaker to visit Cal Poly to talk about issues of sexuality. Last year, neuroscientist Simon LeVay, who is known for his research on biologically-determined sexual orientation, visited campus. According to Kennelly, those who were interested in his talk should consider listening to Halperin as well.
“They’re both very controversial, and LeVay has actually criticized Halperin, so in my opinion anyone who went to LeVay’s talk owes it to themselves to see this one, too,” Kennelly said.
The event is sponsored by Cal Poly and the Growing Together initiative of the San Luis Obispo County Community Fund.