Two students present 17th Annual Nord Award research projects

Diana Boesch
Diana Boesch ’13

Maikor Pereira Azuaje '14
Maikor Pereira Azuaje ’14

Two Whitman students recently presented research they conducted after winning the David Nord Award, an annual prize given for projects designed to address critical issues facing the LGBTQ community though a creative and scholarly lens.

Diana Boesch '13 and Maikor Pereira Azuaje '14 each earned funding from the college for their research projects, titled respectively "Framing a Collective Gay Legal Identity: The Lasting Impact of Lawrence v. Texas" and "I Love You, Man: Friendship and Brotherhood Across Sexual Orientations."

Boesch, a politics major from Tigard, Ore., collaborated with advisor Melisa Casumbal, assistant professor of politics, to research the lasting impact of the 2003 court case in which Texas legalized sodomy on the development of a collective gay legal identity. She presented her findings at a public lecture on campus April 29.

"I have learned a significant amount about gay rights litigation and how the gay rights movement became so focused on achieving same-sex marriage," said Boesch, whose senior thesis centers on this project. "The research process has also taught me a lot about the patience and dedication required when writing and editing a scholarly journal article."

Pereira Azuaje, an anthropology major and international student from Venezuela, chose a different format for his Nord Award presentation: With the help of advisor Peter de Grasse, visiting instructor of dance, he choreographed a dance performance called "I Love You, Man," which explores sources of tension in friendships between gay and straight men.

"Because most of the uneasiness in straight-gay relationships is expressed through body language, dance, being concerned with movement, can shed light on the reasons behind these somewhat frictional dynamics," he said.

The 30-minute performance takes place Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m. in Cordiner Hall with a question and answer session to follow.

The David Nord Award honor alumnus David Nord '83, who graduated from Whitman with honors in political science. As a student, Nord served as ASWC president and was an active member of Phi Delta Theta. After graduation, he went on to receive a master's degree in psychology from Antioch University in Ohio, set up a psychotherapy practice, and later become a full-time researcher and writer. He established an endowment for the Nord Award at Whitman in 1996, three years prior to his death from AIDS.