Building Community

Community is very important. It’s very important to me, and to any individual that identifies within a marginalized group. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA+ Conference, “Queering Our World” at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. It was amazing. There were Queer identified individuals from all across the east coast. It spoke volumes to me with how many individuals from such diverse locations came to get more educated on all things queer, encompassing identities to how to make their schools more accepting and inclusive.

Some workshops I attended included “Trans Student Policy Briefing and Advocacy Training”, “LGBTQIA History Eye Opener”, and our very own Emily New-Cruse a senior at James Madison, and the educational coordinator of Madison Equality presented “Implementing Intersectionality”.

I actually got a quote from Emily about how she thought her presentation went and how it could be a platform to build community. She said, “I think that people left with tools to promote intersectionality in their communities which will not only allow for better community development but also for a more inclusive community that is affirming and supportive of more people.” I definitely have to agree.

Emily kind of put into words exactly what I was thinking. It exemplifies why I love when marginalized groups come together. It was a queer conference, but that is not all we talked about by any means. Emily presented on Intersectionality, but so did a number of individuals. It was definitely the most focused on presentation topic.

Robyn Ochs, the key note speaker and a fabulous advocate for the Queer community also had her talk about intersectionality. She talked about how every community comes together for a reason. That can be a passion, identity, or a like-mindedness on a subject. However we need to recognize all the intersections within our identities and recognize that we as a group have to fight for our own struggles, but also lend a helping hand to other communities.

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Community

I guess kind of what i’m trying to get at is the sense of community that forms around a group of individuals that are marginalized. It is something unfathomable. When you go to a conference like the one I attended or any type of group oriented meeting you gain a sense of “being home”. You can be completely yourself, and that is so uplifting. That is what we are, as a community, working towards. Making it so that everyone can feel comfortable being themselves at any given moment. At the conference they put signs on all the bathrooms making it so they were gender neutral and that’s a perfect example of implementing something small that speaks volumes to being inclusive.

This level of comfortability within this queer conference and all the talks on intersectionality definitely intersect with feminism. Look at this blog and all the other blogs out there. They are the first step in creating that community. Reaching out to the masses and establishing a place where people can freely express themselves. Express what hardships they are going through, and in what ways things are going well within the scope of their identity.

Media is a great way to start forming a community around one of your identities or passions. But one thing that all of this has taught me is yes, you can get the movement started by yourself. But when you have a group, when you have a community behind you fighting for the same thing. That speaks volumes. That’s what truly creates change. Don’t be afraid to reach out and to formulate the community that i’m speaking about as you see fit. Go to conferences, network, formulate something large scale.

Education is the first step, then implementation, and hopefully eventually we will reach a place where there doesn’t necessarily need to be different communities, but rather everyone is educated on other people’s identities and respects them and embraces them for who they are.

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