How to Have Sex in a Pandemic: Intimacy, Disease, & the Politics of Vulnerability


a roundtable discussion with Kenyon Farrow, Amber Musser, Juana Maria Rodriguez, & Dean Spade; moderated by Chandan Reddy

To register for this Zoom webinar, click here.

This panel brings together queer/feminist scholars and activists to consider how the spread of COVID-19 – like prior pandemics – has impacted and disorganized our understandings of the body, the boundaries of public/private, intimacy, sex, risk, and the distribution of vulnerability and care. Though vulnerability is everywhere present, why are racial disparities in the disease’s impact so often understood by moral and cultural explanations of individual responsibility?  What is the relationship between care labor, such as nursing, and other forms of intimate work, like sex work?  And why do so many people want to know how to have sex during contagious times? Why do such inquiries matter? How does AIDS shadow our experience of this newest pandemic, both in terms of formal state responses to the disease and insurgent, community-based initiatives?

Organized by the NYU Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality. Co-sponsored by the NYU Department of Performance Studies; Institute of African American Affairs & Center for Black Visual Culture; and Latinx Project.


This event is free and will be accessed via Zoom. Click here to register.

Please contact CSGS at or 212-992-9540 for more information.

Facebook event page here.


Amber Jamilla Musser is Professor of American Studies at George Washington University. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, aesthetics, and sexuality. She is particularly interested in thinking about what constitutes the flesh. She is the author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (NYU Press, 2014) and Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (NYU Press, 2018). She also writes art reviews for the Brooklyn Rail and is currently working on a project about noise.

Juana María Rodríguez is the author of two books Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (NYU Press 2014) and Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (NYU Press, 2003) and one of the co-editors of the TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly special issue on “Trans Studies en las Americas.” Her research focuses on racialized sexuality and gender; queer of color theory and activism; affect and aesthetics; technology and media arts; sexual politics; and Latinx cultures. She is currently completing a new book, under contract with Duke University Press, called Puta Life: Seeing Latinas, Working Sex.

Dean Spade has been working to build queer and trans liberation based in racial and economic justice for the past two decades. He’s the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, the director of the documentary Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!,” and the creator of the mutual aid toolkit at His latest book, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next), is forthcoming from Verso Press in October 2020.


image: Meeting Place: (From There), photo, 2017, Shan Kelley

Artist website:

Instagram: @shan.kelley