Past Talks & More | Public Programs

Paris Is Burning

(Jennie Livingston, 1990)

Topics in Black Masculinity: The Fierceness of Black Sexuality, Black Gay Identity, and Black Sexual Freedom

Screening and Panel Discussion

Black sexuality and queer identity have posed serious contentions, both within the black community and in popular culture at large. How and what black people do with their bodies, and how they negotiate their sexuality and sexual experiences, have been taboo topics of discussion for decades. Ohio State’s Townsand Price-Spratlen and Shannon Winnubst and visiting scholar Terrance Dean explore these subjects and others in this panel discussion and screening of Jennie Livingston’s iconic 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning.

The winner of a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, the iconic film provides a powerful and stimulating look at what it meant to be black, gay, and sexually free in the drag ballroom subculture of 1980s Harlem. (78 mins., DCP) The screening is followed by an engaging discussion of black gay life then and today, as well as how black sexuality and sexual liberation is expressed, performed, and experienced in all its cultural forms.

Digitally remastered version of Paris Is Burning courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project.

Cosponsored by Ohio State’s Departments of African American and African Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and supported by the Arts & Humanities Discovery Theme initiative Transnational Black Citizenship Project.

Terrance Dean
Speaker, educator, and author Terrance Dean is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he was also a 2005 John Seigenthaler Journalism Scholar. Dean is the author of the critically acclaimed, best-selling memoir Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry—from Music to Hollywood (Simon & Schuster, 2008) as well as Reclaim Your Power! A 30-Day Guide to Hope, Healing, and Inspiration for Men of Color (Random House, 2003) and Straight from Your Gay Best Friend: The Straight-Up Truth about Relationships, Work, and Having A Fabulous Life (Agate, 2010). Dean made his fiction debut with his novel Mogul (Simon & Schuster, 2011) and contributed a novella to the anthology Visible Lives: Three Stories in Tribute to E. Lynn Harris (Kensington, 2010). His writing has also appeared in Vibe, Essence, XXL, and the Huffington Post. Dean is currently a visiting scholar here at Ohio State in the Department of African American and African Studies.

Townsand Price-Spratlen
Townsand Price-Spratlen is an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State with research interests that include the sociology of religion, social justice, and the history of African American organizational development, with a focus on how community organization practices shaped the Great Migration during and after the Jim Crow era. His current research analyzes how faith-health relationships help reduce health disparities and how former felons collaborate with grassroots organizations to nurture community justice. Price-Spratlen’s research and social justice affiliations include the Columbus Congregations for Healthy Youth project, the Advisory Board of Reconstruction, and the American Friends Service Committee. Price-Spratlen completed his PhD at the University of Washington in 1993.

Shannon Winnubst
Professor and Chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State, Shannon Winnubst has worked on the complex dynamics of race and sexuality for over 20 years. In addition to dozens of essays and editorial projects, she has written two books: Queering Freedom (Indiana University Press, 2006) and Way Too Cool: Selling Out Race and Ethics (Columbia University Press, 2015). She vividly remembers the groundbreaking release of Paris Is Burning in 1990 and is excited to explore the film again in 2018.


Rohauer Collection Foundation


Institute of Museum and Library Services

National Endowment for the Arts


Huntington Bank

Cardinal Health Foundation


Greater Columbus Arts Council

Ohio Arts Council

The Columbus Foundation

Nationwide Foundation


Past Talks & More

Paris Is Burning