Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nov. 23rd edition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

This is John Quinlan, for Forward Forum, airing Sundays from 7-9 pm on WTDY, 1670 am, and streaming live and podcasting at .  Join me, co-host Harry Waisbren (who blogs about our show and related issues at, and producer Stephanie Woods (who hosts "Sunday Night Live," at 6pm, immediately preceding our program) for a thought-provoking discussion linking history and current events with a universally powerful message. 

On this week's show: a focus on how a remarkable exhibit entitled "Nazi Persecutions of Homosexuals 1933-1945" has enriched the greater Madison community in surprising ways--transforming depictions of a dark time in human history into a community-building experience filled with new understandings and new hope.  Sponsored by the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools (see, this traveling exhibit 
from the US Holocaust Museum (in the lobby of the UW-Madison's Memorial Library until December 10th) has been the catalyst for a whole series of events, culminating in a special closing ceremony on Dec. 4th.  That ceremony will include the reprise of an original composition, written specifically for the occasion, by renowned pianist Adrienne Torf, and a keynote speech by the award-winning scholar and writer Lev Rafael, the son of Holocaust survivors, and the author of almost two dozen books, including "Journeys & Arrivals: On Being Gay and Jewish." 

We're privileged to be hosting a number of special guests, who will provide a historical context and other insights regarding the resonance of the exhibit with current events.  They'll  also explain the story of how the exhibit's trip to Madison and associated events came to be, and why it's had some especially powerful effects on all who've seen it, especially young people.  We are also attempting to offer a brief update on developments nationwide in response to California's anti-gay Proposition 8, and related events in other states.  
Our final guest list is still a work in progress; see our website on Sunday for an updated listing, and further information about the exhibit, and our guests.

In our 7pm hour, we'll be joined by GSAFE Executive Director Cindy Crane, GSAFE board member and exhibit organizer Jenny Pressman, and, on the phone from San Francisco, composer/pianist Adrienne Torf.  We'll hear more from Cindy Crane about the genesis of the exhibit's visit to Madison, including the response that young people have had to its messages.  (We're hoping to hear directly from some of these young people on next week's show.)  Jenny Pressman will also share how her own family history has been intricately connected to the legacy of Holocaust survivors.  Then Adrienne Torf (accomplished pianist, and longtime collaborator with other women artists, including women's music pioneer Holly Near and poet June Jordan), will discuss why she has been inspired to travel twice to Madison this fall, and how her original composition evokes both the darker truths of the exhibit, and the transformative power of coming out, story-telling, and other inspiring aspects of the LGBT experience.  (For more on the impressive body of Adrienne Torf's life work as a musician and cultural activist, go to

Then in our 8pm hour, we'll be joined by UW history department program specialist John Tortorice, Department of German Professor James Steakley, and Miami University of Ohio Associate Professor Erik Jensen (who received his doctorate from the UW-Madison in 2003).  John Tortorice has been instrumental in securing the UW as a venue for the exhibit, and has long been supportive of efforts to capture LGBT history locally and internationally.  He and our other panelists will reflect on the legacy of the late UW History Professor George Mosse, John's life partner, a Holocaust survivor himself, who was among the world's top scholars on issues surrounding the Holocaust, and its intersection with issues of both Jewish and gay identity.  James Steakley is also a world-renowned expert on the experience of gays in Germany in the first half of the 20th century, and has mentored dozens of young scholars who have gone on to do groundbreaking work in this area, including Erik Jensen.

Countless individuals and organizations have supported bringing this exhibit, and its associated events, to Madison, and we apologize that we aren't able to involve everyone in studio.  However, whether you helped organize this event, or you've been moved by its appearance here, we encourage your participation by calling us at 321-1670 or toll free 1-877-867-1670.  

The exhibit and other events are ongoing; while the exhibit is open for people to tour on their own, docents are available to lead tours of the exhibit on weekday evenings (except Fridays) and Saturday afternoons.  For more information about a series of powerful films, other events, and the closing ceremony, go to or call 608-661-4141.

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