Kristopher Velasco Receives the 2020 Kenneth Sherrill Prize

The Kenneth Sherrill Prize is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation proposal for an empirical study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) topics in political science.

Kristopher Velasco is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.  Kristopher’s research focuses on the role of organizations in establishing and diffusing world cultural values – with a specific focus on LGBTI rights.  This research has appeared in outlets such as Social Forces and International Studies Quarterly, among others.  As a first-generation student and from an immigrant family, Kristopher is committed to using his educational training to strengthen and give back to the communities from which he came.

Citation from the Award Committee:

We are excited to award Kristopher Velasco with the Kenneth Sherrill Prize because of his dissertation project’s substantial contributions to the social scientific study of LGBT+ movements.  Moving beyond ‘progress narratives’ concerning the development of rights, Velasco examines the collision between LGBT+ and anti-LGBT+ movements, which produces a variety of policy outcomes with tremendous impacts on marginalized people’s day-to-day lives.  He argues that LGBT+ transnational advocacy networks precipitated homophobic advocacy networks.  Networks focused on ‘family’, ‘anti-imperialism’, and ‘children’ (FAIC networks) mobilized in order to frame LGBT+ rights as threats to nationalism and family values.  LGBT+ advocacy networks in part fueled homophobic animus and provided conservative/nationalistic actors with legitimacy for their homophobic policies and bases to organize FAIC networks.  Velasco provides a novel theoretical framework that allows us to better understand how competing networks produce varying policy outcomes.  In particular, the framework points out how LGBT+ and FAIC networks both can be embedded in a society, creating contestation and intense competition regarding sexuality norms and public policy.  Examples of these societies include Italy, South Africa, and the United States.  Velasco plans to unpack the contestation in these societies using a variety of data sources across multiple time periods, including content analysis of media sources as well as comparative policy analyses.  We expect that these analyses will produce both compelling quantitative analyses and case study analyses.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Gary Mucciaroni (chair), Temple University; Kelly Kollman, University of Glasgow; and Douglas Page, Gettysburg College.