As you know, June is National Pride Month. And the last Sunday in June is designated as National Pride Day - and that’s this coming Sunday, June 30, 2019.
For many reasons, I am a proud LGBTQ+ ally - mostly because it’s just the right thing to do to, but I also have people in my life who mean the world to me who are part of that community. As a straight, cisgender, white female, I have not experienced nor will I ever experience their level of discrimination. I don’t say that I’m an ally out of any sort of obligation, but because I just truly don’t comprehend how anyone, particularly parents, can behave the way they sometimes do.
I’ve been watching and loving the new RuPaul talk show, and one of this week’s guests was Sara Cunningham, founder and executive director of FreeMomHugs.org. I knew of the organization before but to hear her story first-hand was inspiring. If you go to their website and find your local chapter, you’ll find events listed to join. I highly encourage everyone to do that. I’ve unfortunately missed some local events but plan on getting active with this group.
I have also been a reader of the Human Rights Campaign, website hrc.org. They have a supporter guide for allies, and I highly recommend downloading it and reading as it answers a lot of questions you may have. In fact, the entire website is loaded with helpful information on the subject. It discusses how to have conversations and ask questions, facts you should know, and ways to show support. Go check it out.
I just finished a class on diversity for my degree program and although I was disappointed in it overall, I did walk away with a more official way to look at diversity issues, though the four lenses of general education, which I found were helpful in breaking down the issues in less of an emotional way, and perhaps they could help those who need guidance in studying these issues.
I’d like to review some of them here. Now this information is taken directly from my school, Southern New Hampshire University, and I think these definitions are comprehensive and clear, so I’m going to share some now…
There are four lenses we used: Humanities, History, Natural and Applied Sciences, and Social Sciences (SNHU, The Four General Education Lenses):
· Humanities: At the core of the Humanities is human creativity, and they explore the things that humanity creates and how they offer insight into the way people experienced their present, interacted with their culture, and comprehended abstract concepts and big questions about humanity’s place in the universe. The humanities broaden perspectives and promote an understanding of multiple experiences, cultures, and values through various mediums of creative human expression–such as literature, fine art, dance, photography, literature, philosophy and religion, film and television, music, even the Internet and social media--many of which are taught as separate academic disciplines. Within the Humanities, both the artist’s (or creator’s) intent and audience reception of a creative artifact are considered to help understand cultural values and why they matter. They celebrate cultural diversity while also highlighting cultural similarity.
· History: Many of us are familiar with history as being a list of dates, events, and people to memorize, but history. Your primary exposure to history could have been in grade school required classes or in documentaries about subjects you find interesting. There is so much more to history, however. History tells the stories of our past to help us better understand how we go to the present. In addition to dates, events, and people, history encompasses first-hand accounts of experiences that include artifacts from an era (tools, clothes, toys, etc.), letters or diaries from people who lived during a certain time, documents from a time period, photographs, and, when possible, interviews with people who lived through the events that historians study. Together, these historical remnants help write a story of a particular time, which is then folded into the stories of history we are living and making today.
· Natural and Applied Sciences: The natural and applied sciences study the physical world to help us better understand ourselves and our place in nature, and nature’s role in shaping us. The Natural Sciences include fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics, while the Applied Sciences includes STEM-related fields such as mathematics and technology. Together these fields explore the questions and curiosities humans have been asking for ages, and scientists often develop questions and use a scientific process - the Scientific Method - to describe, predict, and observe the natural world. This method of developing and researching hypotheses can also be applied to the other lenses as a way to organize the questions one might ask to gain a deeper understanding of our world and experiences.
· Social Sciences: As people are social beings, social science is the study of society and the relationships between people. Subjects included in this lens are psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, and geography. This study of human behavior and interaction can sometimes “overlap” with the humanities lens, which also studies different cultures. Studying society, culture, and human relationships will lead us to an understanding of how people live and how to improve our lives. Social scientists use a variety of methods to arrive at conclusions within this lens, such as interviews, participant-observation, and primary and secondary sources. The social sciences can also intersect with the other lenses. For instance, like the history lens, social scientists may look at the past to gain an understanding of the social relationships that took place. How do we interact? How do we work together? Asking questions similar to these has given us the opportunity to evaluate causes and effects related to people in our society. Consider how the social science lens helps us interact with the world around us and uses cultural artifacts to make changes in our lives to promote better living or promote interactions we normally would not have with others.
As I’ve gotten a bit older and removed people from my life who hold very different views on the subject, I get upset with myself for not speaking out or getting involved sooner.
These are many people who, for reasons I will never understand or comprehend, believe that there either are no issues, or that discrimination doesn’t exist, or that “these people” are dealing with mental issues, or that stories are made up. I’m talking of course about the LGBTQ community, but also how women are treated in the workplace, and race issues - and maybe it’s because I’ve lived in an area my whole life with a rich mixture of everyone that I see it first-hand, and am a professional woman who has personally dealt with discrimination and judgement based on my gender many times - for anyone to claim that these issues are blown out of proportion or even non-existent means they’re living in a bubble and need to look at their biases and open their minds to an entire world out there.
Now, I’m certainly no expert on the subject and do have a level of privilege that many others don’t, and I empathize and understand that others live with and deal with issues on a daily basis that I will never experience - and that’s why I think it’s about damned time I step up and get more involved.
So I want to let you know…I am an ally. I commit to being more involved. I commit to being more vocal. And I commit to defending you and being where I need to be.
Happy Pride Month everyone, and I love you all….