I wanted to rework my safe spaces blog post. Obviously as everyone learned in class I am gay. I didn't right about it or speak about it in class because I was waiting to see if the class was in fact a safe space. Once we got talking about LGBT issues in class I knew that I would have to make the decision so share my secret. (Quick clarification I am technically "out of the closet" but I don't go around shouting it from the roof tops)The anonymous writing assignment was the best opportunity I had to test the waters, so I wrote the basics of me being gay on the notecard. Seeing that there was nobody wanting to chop my head off I decided that I would come out but I wanted to do it in my own way. I figured that being casual was my best bet so I made a little comment about how "Im gay and I don't understand all of the terminology." Clever right? I thought so. Anyway, after that everything was all good and accepting so I found that it is a safe space.
I feel like it would be good for me to share my story here because a lot of people in the class seemed to not have experience with the gay community. I was very fortunate in the sense that I went to a very accepting high school that did not give me any problems.
It sort of just happened, like it came out of nowhere... but at the same time I have always known. I official said the words "I'm gay" on October 6th 2011, but my whole life I have known something was different. I just suppressed my feelings, who would willingly enter a world of discrimination and danger? But the time came and I couldn't hold it in anymore. After telling that first person it became easier and easier. I finally felt like I could be myself, and not have the weight of this secret, the weight of the world barring down on me. I built my circle of support among friends first, telling about 5 or 6 people I was really close with. Not one had a problem and they all cared for me just the same (So far so good!). Then after about a week of panicking and dread I decided to tell my parents. Well I told my mother one Saturday morning. It took everything I had to mutter the words, just two simple words. And when I did her response was even better, it was one word. "Okay"
Obviously from there we went on to talk about it blah blah blah being safe and entering a world of discrimination blah blah blah. You get the picture. They love me all the same and were more concerned for my safety in life then the fact I was actually gay, yet again another huge weight off my shoulders.
From there it was pretty much smooth sailing. I started dating a man a month after I came out, which means essentially my whole school found out from that. But not once did I have to deal with hate, or mistreatment in anyway. There were a few awkward moments though, I knew the people who weren't okay with it but they kept it to themselves and remained respectful.
So as you can tell I am able to relate to Safe Spaces on a level that others might not be able to. My parents actually were hesitant about me coming to school in Providence because a year before I came here a gay man was murdered in a hate crime. So because of things like that, I keep my sexuality to my self. When I am in a class I play the roll of the role of the norm in society. I won't go out of my way to act "Straight" but I won't let my more colorful side show either. People assume I am straight all of the time, and why wouldn't they? I don't flaunt it. I do ballroom dance and people assume I am dating one of the girls all the time at the social dances. They are mainly part of the older generation so I just roll with it. Easier to let them think what they want then risk them ending up hating me. I appreciate Delpits rules and codes of power. So to fit in with them I remain like everyone else when meeting people I don't know.
Watch this video. It is LGBTQ people saying they want to know what its like to live in a world without fear. It is very powerful.
So all in all, I evaluate a situation before deciding to show my true self or not. To show acceptance in the classroom you have to do the little things to show support. The last thing I would want to see is my teacher come roaring in wearing a rainbow suit saying gay is ok. Just speak up when you hear students say, "That's so gay." You could support the use of gender-neutral bathrooms, or even just let your students know your classroom is a safe space for them to come to.
This became way longer than I thought it would... even though I could keep talking about this. Well thanks for listening anyway and I hope hearing about my experience and thought processes it will help you in the future.
Talking point: Assumed straight till proven otherwise. After all how many of
you thought I was straight?