Panel to Discuss LGBTQ+ History and Activism in the Community and at Western April 26

WWU Associate Professor and Chair of Secondary Education A Longoria will host “In Conversation with Robert Ashworth and Betty Desire: Unboxing a Local Queer History, 1975-1995,” on Wednesday, April 26, at 4 p.m. in the Western Washington University Libraries Wilson Reading Room (4th Floor Central).

The event is free and open to the public.

This event will explore questions such as: What insights about Queer experience can we gain from looking at our recent past? What key comparisons can we draw upon to understand Queer experience today? Longoria, the recipient of the James W. Scott Regional Research Fellowship, will facilitate a conversation with long-time community members Robert Ashworth and Betty Desire about the history of local LGBTQ+ activism and Queer community in Bellingham from 1975-1995. Key artifacts from the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies and Western Washington University Archives will be discussed.

Speakers will include:

  •  A Longoria (they/them; Longoria) is associate professor and chair of Secondary Education in the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University. Longoria is co-author, with Francisco Ríos, of the best-selling book "Creating a Home in Schools: Sustaining Identities for Black, Indigenous, and Teachers of Color" (Teachers College Press). Previously a high school teacher, they formerly served as Academic Program director for the Master in Teaching (MIT) program. Additionally, they previously served as co-chair (2020-2022) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Queer Studies Special Interest Group (SIG), and have taught courses for Family and Community Engaged Teaching (FACET), and for the Education and Social Justice (ESJ) minor. For Winter and Spring 2023, they serve as Interim Director for the Education and Social Justice minor.
  • Robert Ashworth moved to Bellingham in 1973 to attend Western Washington University, graduating in 1978. As a long-term and politically active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Bellingham, Robert has helped to foster local Queer community for decades, as well as to gather and preserve historical materials now archived at Western.
  • Betty Desire is a household name in Bellingham as the city's best-known drag queen, and founder and editor of the Betty Pages, Cascadia's “most inclusive alternative-lifestyle tabloid” (now in publication for more than 20 years). Betty is a committed activist and spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community as well as star and queen of the stage.

This talk is co-sponsored by Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections, Woodring College of Education, and LGBTQ+ Western. It is offered as part of the James W. Scott Regional Research Fellowship, awarded annually to scholars who conduct significant research using archival holdings at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS), a unit of Archives & Special Collections. Funds are in honor of the late James W. Scott, a noted scholar of the Pacific Northwest region, and a founder and first director of CPNWS.

For more information about this event, please contact CPNWS Archivist Ruth Steele,, (360) 650-7747.