I’ve always considered myself an ally, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started to take it seriously. Today’s political climate, between Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, is downright hateful, and I have too many LGBTQIA* family, friends, colleagues, etc., not to be. So last week I had training to join my campus’ network of LGBTQIA faculty, staff and students who are prepared to act as advocates and resources to LGBTQIA faculty, staff and students.
I’ve never been so comfortable with my ignorance before. I walked with a blank slate and open mind, hoping to goodness I’d be able to actually help someone when I was done, and I think I’ll be able to do that. But more importantly, I learned a WHOLE lot. Like more than I imagined, and not just about the resources. The power of language is immense, and I never took the time to understand its significance as it relates to this community. I’ve never really taken the time to understand the various terms that can be thrown around to describe people in the community, but I feel like at least I won’t offend someone now with antiquated or historically offensive terms.
I’m still unpacking what it means to understand the differences between identities, categories, and concepts related to who someone loves and how they identify themselves. The only thing I can conclude right now is that I’ll look at gender and sexuality more as a continuum than I did before. I’ve always felt that sexuality/attraction was a continuum, but I didn’t look at gender in the same way. It really stemmed from some reflection I had on how different me and my girl friends are and how we always joke that I could very easily be a male … but I think that’s more a question of socialization.
Shrug. I’m still working all of this, but I’m sure I’ll be doing so for quite a while.
*I can’t even begin to know the most inclusive LGBT-related abbreviations, but I hope the spirit of what I mean is there.