The Long Road to Marriage Equality in Rowan County
After the Supreme Court ruling making marriage equality law in the United States, Rowan County, home to the university town of Morehead, found itself front and center in an international media storm when county clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses because doing so to same-sex couples “threatened her salvation.”
In this powerful multi-media presentation – including original interview data from lesbians and gay men living in the Bible Belt, video footage, and photographs – Morehead State University Professor Bernadette Barton walks audiences through the events as they unfolded in Rowan County through the lens of “compulsory Christianity.”
Strippers: Realities, Representations and Raunch Culture
In a pornified raunch culture, the actual exotic dancer (not the woman taking pole-dancing classes for fitness, or the girl giving her boyfriend a lap dance at a party) resides at the intersection of a cultural paradox: representations of strippers are everywhere in the media and nowhere in real life, the girls acting like strippers are good sluts, but the girls who are strippers are bad ones, and, finally, all young women are to supposed to be as close to naked as possible most of the time.
In this multi-media lecture, Dr. Bernadette Barton discusses the real lives of exotic dancers in relationship to ubiquitous media representation of strippers in raunch culture. This presentation argues that even in our body-obsessed, androsexist culture, young women can resist both emulating and disdaining exotic dancers.
The Toxic Closet: Being Gay in the Bible Belt
What is the toxic closet? For many gay people “coming out” means risking rejection, abuse, and ostracism, especially in the Bible Belt. At the same time, staying in, what Dr. Bernadette Barton calls, the “toxic closet” also has long-term emotional and social consequences.
Christian-themed bumper stickers, signs, and symbols permeate public spaces in the Bible Belt while routine conversations include frequent references to one’s church, church attendance, and “walk with the Lord.” One is supposed to be Christian in the Bible Belt and defer to Christian authorities. Inundated with conservative Christian beliefs and practices from childhood, those who live in the Bible Belt learn to suppress their same-sex attractions, hide them, and try to pray the gay away.
Drawing on interviews with over 50 lesbians and gay men, this thought-provoking multi-media presentation – featuring video clips, and photographs – illustrates the effects of religious-based homophobia on individual lives.
While most institutions have mission statements stating their commitment to the importance of diversity, confusion and miscommunications still erupt in workplaces and schools in the implementation of diversity initiatives. Much of this results from a lack of education on the central issues, discomfort with the topic, and a collective paucity of language to facilitate productive discussions. A skilled public speaker with over 20 years of experience lecturing on diversity issues, Dr. Bernadette Barton introduces participants to basic concepts in diversity studies, then opens and facilitates a conversation among attendees centered on their specific concerns and ideas.
Dr. Barton is accomplished in creating safe spaces to discuss potentially controversial issues, and has much experience illuminating common ground between those with differing perspectives. Diversity 101 can be presented in either lecture or workshop formats while being tailored to the interests of a specific institution, and the knowledge-level of the attendees.
“Bernadette Barton takes us on a vivid inside tour of Bible Belt America that us privileged gay folks from more liberal parts of the U.S. have a hard time imagining or even knew existed. The stories she tells are riveting, heartbreaking, infuriating, yet ultimately uplifting.”
Interview with Dr. Barton: Midday Kentucky
“Watch the Midday Kentucky interview with Dr. Barton held on January 18, 2017.”
To schedule a lecture, please e-mail