not so isolated…

not so random…

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (April 2011)


From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another Isolated Incident

Here we go again! Am I talking about Congress on the budget, increasing gas prices, bombing Libya, or Britney Spears’s new album? Either way, history repeats itself and since we didn’t learn our lesson last time we act surprised and pretend that it is the first time for this to occur… therefore — another isolated incident makes as much sense as it doesn’t. Welcome to April!

Reflections from the Road:
It’s complicated and true

Facebook allows a member to list their relationship status as “It’s Complicated.” It’s complicated can mean many different things to many different people. There might be room for follow up questions, but sometimes the more questions you ask the more confusing it might be. This brings me to truth and the need for truth to be validated by others to have meaning. It is key to have validation from others — others get me — all of me is welcome or at least this part of me — and the more complicated the truth is the harder it is to get consistent validation.

I recently stumbled into this line of questioning and was really flustered and taken off guard. I decided to take this moment and figure out who else feels like this regularly and had a pretty powerful realization. It’s complicated and true.

In my newest keynote, If Not Us, Then Who? I tell a story about Zack, my seven-year-old roommate. Zack and his mother have lived with my husband and I for over a year now. They needed housing, and with California’s budget cuts, the extra income was a good fit for all involved, so as a married couple we got roommates. In the keynote, I tell a story about me not really liking children, and that I have learned a lot from Zack because I really listen to him. I show his picture in my powerpoint and generally get lots of “ahhhhhhs” from the young women in the audience. This time I started getting texts asking me about my relationship to Zack and why I would have a roommate. When I reviewed my texts, I almost thought that participants thought I had kidnapped him or something because that would make more sense to them than me having a seven-year-old roommate. Why would a married couple have roommates? I also came out during this keynote as a lesbian, which seemed to be ok, until I mentioned having a husband, and then everyone’s head exploded. I literally could hear gasps from the participants. “Yes, it is true,” I said, “I am a lesbian and am legally married to a man that I am madly in love with. If this is confusing for you imagine what it is like for us.” I then move on.

It is complicated and true.

I worried that these complications that are true in my life could have been avoided. I could say that Zack is my nephew, or use a picture of my nephew and say that I learned this particular story from a different child. That wouldn’t be true, but it wouldn’t be so complicated. Plus, I can have a nephew and not be considered a kidnapper. I could say partner instead of husband, but it has taken me 3 or more years to get used to using the word husband and I find myself now, very proud to be his wife. I could also pretend that I don’t listen to children and that I am single. That might make participants feel better by not even ruffling their feathers to begin with. However, this is complicated and false.

I challenged myself to listen for other groups or individuals that might feel like this and use this as a learning moment instead of re-writing my speech full of lies and omissions. I landed at biracial/multiracial identified people. I tried to imagine what it would be like to identify as more than one racial group that is possibly validated by outsiders and even insiders. A biracial person may “pass” as a member of one racial group and be validated by others in this group as a legitimate member. This then erases or silences the complicated truth of not passing in another group that is also true or at least not having others in another group validate your own complicated identity. Even more interesting to me is that racial identification of one’s parents or extended family isn’t always known for an individual due to adoption, passing parents, secrecy, and other complicated truths.

It’s complicated and true.

Ways Homophobia & Transphobia Affect Straight People

  1. Homophobia and transphobia can cause youth to become sexually active before they are ready in order to prove they are “normal.” This can lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  2. Homophobia and transphobia prevent vital information on sex and sexuality to be readily available in classrooms, medical offices, and other educational venues. Without this information, LGBTQI people are putting themselves at a greater risk for HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

For more info, see Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price, edited by Warren J. Blumenfeld, Boston: Beacon Press: 1992.

Personal Assessment of Homophobia

Homophobia and Transphobia may be experienced and expressed by LGBTQI people as well as heterosexual people. There are many kinds of homophobia and transphobia that happen every day. We often overlook more subtle actions and exclusions because they may seem insignificant. They are not. Subtle homophobia and transphobia are still homophobia and transphobia.

  1. If someone you care about were to say to you “I think I’m gay,” would you suggest that the person see a therapist? What if they told you that the gender assigned to them at birth did not “feel right”?

Modified by CU-Boulder Safe Zone 2005. Adapted by UNC-CH Safe Zone 2003. Written by A. Elfin Moses and Robert O. Hawkins, Jr.; Downloaded from UC Boulder’s website personal_assessment.php.

Be a Leader. Be Informed. Be Involved.

Campus PrideCampus Pride represents the only national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBT and ally students on college campuses across the United States.  Campus Pride envisions campuses and a society free of LGBT prejudice, bigotry and hate. It works to develop student leaders, campus networks, and future actions to create such positive change. Learn more.

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Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
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