Kaitlyn Lafferty

Art History

Kaitlyn Lafferty is a maker based in Denver, Colorado. They are currently finishing their undergraduate degree in Art History with a minor in Philosophy. Outside of academic studies, they make comic-based zines and work in various art educational venues. Like many of our students, Kaitlyn found art history by accident, drawn to this discipline because of its pragmatic use of philosophy combined with tools for uplifting historically misunderstood and erased epistemologies. Their creative work sits at the intersection of visual art and expression of complex ideas, concepts, and structures in a personal and well-researched manner.

“Queer Knowing: Sex Education in the Time of HIV” 

The HIV and AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s prompted an urgent standardization of education on the sexually transmitted disease, and in connection, the multitude of sexual practices in homosexual relationships. While a survey of mainstream sex education didactic publications reveals an evolution in our notions about sexual health in the United States, it excludes parallel discourses in the queer communities. My paper considers the ways in which queer independent publications, knowns as zines, appropriated images from scientific publications for content on queer sex education that included such subjects as healthy relationships and safe sex in the era of HIV and AIDS. Through a discursive look at the content of these zines and images from popular science education, I find that inaccuracies and misconceptions in our popular assumptions about sex and sexuality infiltrate scientific studies and in turn, influence visualizations of human bodies and sexual processes in sex education publications. When compared with mainstream images of sexual health, queer educational materials and art zines reveal their under-recognized importance as queer interventions in the field of science and in discussions of biology, sexuality, and sexual practice.