The local “Pride Center” is having a retreat for youth this month. They are still scraping for programming.
We are looking for workshops that contribute to the lives of LGBTQA youth. This may include (but is not limited to): Advocacy/Education, Understanding Intersecting Oppressions, and Wellness/Self-Care.
Those are the top three things these kids need to learn to contribute to their lives? “Understanding Intersecting Oppressions?”
That Women’s Studies model seems to have really serious limits to me. Unless we can understand what kind of constraints — oppressions — that the system of gender puts even on normative white christian men, the people who are often seen as being at the top of this pyramid of oppression — we can never understand how everyone is bullied by social convention.
What I think they need to learn are the strategies for being queer in the world.
How do you construct a persona that is both wild and tame, both bold enough to be uniquely you so you can be authentic and mild enough to fit into others needs so you can get what you need?
How do you actually enter your own hell to question, challenge and deconstruct all the habits and assumptions you ended up with while also being a well assimilated member of the group who makes others feel safe & comfortable?
We need our jobs and our friends and our sex partners and our grades and our family, and all of those require that we meet the expectations of others. And we need our own voice and own style and own breathing room, and all of those require we not be bound up in the expectations of others.
This is the challenge of creating a persona, being both authentic and assimilated in our own way. How queer is too queer, too bold and wild, how queer is not queer enough, too too meek and tame?
And more than that, how do we learn to embrace others who make that balance in a different way than we do? The others who identify like we do, but just seem to be too much of a flamer or too much of a normie? How do we find a way to support their queer choices even if they are choices we would never make for ourselves?
For example, as a trans-femme I know that people often see me as too mild, because they never take the time to understand my wild heart and mind.
I suggest that queer theory, which venerates the power of individual choice, rather than venerating the power of group identity and oppression, is a key to acknowledging and affirming others as unique individuals, to affirming yourself as a unique individual with your own mix of wild and tame choices.
The Six Responses to challenge in the world — Conceal, Concede, Confront, Convert, Clown, Calm — are important strategies to consider in facing everyday life. Each one of them can be useful, especially when alloyed together.
That’s what I would want to tell queer kids if I had an hour and a half with them. Just my old training in elementary education coming back, I guess.But I doubt they would want to hear from queer old me. That’s something else coming out, I fear.