Former nun discusses GLBT

Mar 242011
Authors: Brittany Lancaster

For Kelli Dunham, as it relates to your health, the “f-word” means more than simply screwing it or abusing it. It’s about appreciating your body and loving who you are.

“I am a goodie-two-shoes and do not use much profanity, but there are always appropriate times for it,” Dunham said. “I feel as though this is one of them, I would say it (f***) a thousand times if it assisted me in showing the importance of health.”

Students and community members came to the LSC East Ballroom Thursday night to hear Dunham, an author, speaker, stand-up comic, ex-nun and health care provider, give a comedic lecture regarding GLBT health topics.

Sponsored by Diversity and Social Justice Programming, the Association for Student Activity Programming and the diversity grant in the GLBT Resource Center, the event, aptly titled “F*** Your Health,” aimed at giving a new perception of the term as well as the importance of queer-specific health.

Dunham’s take-home notes from the lecture included audience involvement. She had each member repeat her main points back to her: “F*** fundamentals, preventative care, your community, safer f***ing, harm reduction, entitlement and hope.”

And it’s that comedic tone that helped level the playing field for anyone unfamiliar with the concerns and issues she addressed, audience members said.

Senior psychology major Brandon Cox remarked at the event’s surprisingly comfortable nature and content.

“Comedy was a really good approach for Kelli’s lecture,” Cox said. “The issues can be uncomfortable and the information is salient for me and will help when dealing with health
care providers.”

According to Dunham, it’s necessary for all individuals and allies of the GLBT population to “concern themselves to push the concern on the system,” meaning people have to care about the issues themselves before the system takes vested interest in those same issues.

During her lecture, Dunham told the story of a previous show when a group of near identical blonde girls wearing pink shirts attended her show as a form of sorority hazing.

“They told me it was either come to my show or drink beer out of each others vagina’s,” Dunham said.

She used this example to highlight the fact that though these girls didn’t necessarily fit into the example of those who would be interested in queer health, they derived a sort of benefit from her show and learning about the issues addressed.

In an anecdotal example of her recent trip to Haiti, she spoke about assisting health care
efforts following the earthquake.

She helped treat an 8-year-old boy who had been reported as a consistent crier, except when
he was with her. It was her noticeable wit and ability to entertain, she said, that kept his attention.

“As it turned out he didn’t have time to cry as he tried to figure out if I was a man or a lady,” Dunham said. “Initially everyone thought I was a superhero, but I was an accidental superhero.”

Queers shouldn’t feel misplaced because of their differences, she said, but realize they are unique, beautiful and have a lot to offer to their community and world. She said she hoped her audience would embrace the accidental superhero inside them.

“Go change the world,” she said, “but f*** your health first.”

Staff writer Brittany Lancaster can be reached at

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