My experience in Lincoln is good so far in that there are some initiatives towards equality extended to QTBLG (Queer, Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, & Gay- and YES IN THAT ORDER so don’t get it twisted) folks. The community really likes us being in town & it inspires them to be more open about being QTBLG. Though I found that I had to initiate the conversations about queer experiences and rights, that tells me that (1) they aren’t used to talking about it amongst themselves and (2) they are hesitant to talk about it for fear of being attacked or ostracized. When I did bring them back to the topic, I felt that they were very happy to talk about their personal experiences of being queer in Lincoln. I felt like they were resting their heads on my shoulder (figuratively) to find comfort and that is a feeling I can’t describe!
Yesterday, I met with an old colleague/friend & his boyfriend who showed me around town yesterday and we got to catch up on life & talk about what its like being queer in Lincoln. They are such an adorable couple and so deeply committed, but when I asked if they hold hands in public or kiss (PDA) like so many straight couples do (and take for granted), they said no. Again, they are in a beautiful relationship that’s lasted 3 years and still going strong. They shouldn’t have to worry about having to hide their love. I shudder to think that I might have to do that when I get into a relationship.
Earlier today, we were invited to an affirming church where there was great food, great people, and great discussion! I’m glad that our conversations weren’t just limited to LGB rights but also covered the T and it ventured towards talks about racism and affirmations of high school QTBLG groups. Our time was very limited though and it saddens me that it had to end so soon because the conversations were scintillating. There were some folks from different congregations, schools, and The Human Rights Campaign. I wish the representative stayed around for the racism conversation and that we didn’t have to spend so much time talking about other things that stalled the conversation that people needed to have. There were awesome Union College students & faculty in attendance as well. I heard many wonderful things and learned that the faculty created a “safe space” which has a mini LGBTQ resource library. There is a space set up with chairs where students can come, sit, chill, and find affirming faculty members. LGBTQ students are already making use of this space. This is a wonderful resource for Union students that I am thankful that they have.
While that is great, Union still needs to extend their anti-harrasment policy to include protection to QTBLG students. I’m also hoping that Union will encourage all faculty and staff to be safe zone trained- as some of them already have signs on their doors. We also hope to encourage a comprehensive RA (Resident Advisor) training so they could better respond to someone who identifies as QTBLG or an ally.
Upon hearing these gems, I’m very excited about our visit to Union College tomorrow! I’m very glad that I get to help pave the road to equality for all by clearing up some negative myth-conceptions about queer folks, advocating for the importance of safe spaces, highlighting the other -isms that is connected with homophobia, and build personal rapports with Union students, faculty, & the greater Lincoln community! Ciao for now.
Peace, Love, Namaste, & Equality for all!