Friday, June 22, 2012


As national PRIDE month is slowly drawing to a close and the weekend parades, festivals and get-togethers are coming to a close, I am finding myself slightly torn about the whole thing. On one hand, there is the initial reaction of "Woohoo!" that I have as a bisexual woman involved with my local LGBTQ community; then there is the "Ugh, really?" reaction I have as a bisexual woman reading the obligatory rehashings of 'progress' in LGBTQ rights and community.

I have this reaction due to the nature of the articles that these writers are creating to relay the history of LGBTQ rights and communities and individuals. The articles center around the plights of gay white men, completely whitewashing history. If you knew nothing of LGBTQ history or culture, just based on reading these articles you would most likely think that there were no such thing as LGBTQ women or people of color that made significant contributions to rights progressions and society as a whole.

This is a real shame, given the struggles within the community for decades between white gay men and every other demographic in the community. Progress has been made, and particularly with my generation their is fairly general acceptance of the validity of each person's given sexuality or gender identity. And while I come from a place of relative privilege, I have encountered the frustrating tendency even within my own generation to be casually dismissive of bisexuality and people of color.

Part of this I understand; as in society on the whole, it is white men that hold the power. As such, it is fairly easy when paying lip-service to PRIDE month, that the media look for white men who just so happen to be gay. This makes the national coverage of 'gay holiday' a bit easier to stomach for the general populace. After all, major network television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, How I Met Your Mother and Will & Grace have nearly (if not) exclusively featured white men as their token gay characters.

The problem with the media continuing this pattern during PRIDE month is that it ends up undermining the whole point of PRIDE celebrations to begin with, as well as further cements the pattern of solely acknowledging the dominant group during special recognition time frames. The entire point of PRIDE is to show that no matter how different we may look or act, no matter the differences in lifestyle or political affiliation, we are all human, and we deserve to be treated as such. When the media chooses to only acknowledge the dominant group, it reinforces the power structures that oppressed the group receiving recognition in the first place. When recognizing Black History Month, it is the male leaders that are lauded; for Women's History Month, white women make the headlines.

Obviously, this does not happen 100% of the time, as there are exceptions. But the overwhelming frequency with which the media chooses one kind of face to represent dynamic and complex demographics in social justice movements narrows those movements, undermines them, and reinforces long held prejudices both within and beyond those communities being recognized.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Weight Off My Shoulders

Warning: This post contains triggering content.

It's taken me a long time to finally draft this post. I've been wanting to put it up since May, but to find the words to explain how I feel has been difficult. But, at last, one word finally came to mind, allowing me to write this: peaceful.

This coming fall, it will mark ten years since my rape and assault. And now, ten years after the initial trauma, am I finding the peace in myself to allow me to speak openly and publicly about it. I am becoming a certified self-defense instructor, and I plan on speaking frankly with my future students about my assault.

Ten years of hard work and therapy have brought me this far. But in May, I finally achieved a goal that at one time I never thoughtI could; telling my parents about my assault. The goal was not an easy one to achieve. I searched in vain online for articles to help me prep myself, mentally. I found none. I knew I needed to tell them, for my own peace of mind. While I knew they were aware that some kind of sexual trauma had occurred, I felt a deep need to tell them, in my own words, what had happened and how it had affected me. It was the lack of survivors sharing the experience of "coming out" to their loved ones that was that impetus for this post.

It is my sincere hope that by sharing my experience, others will be able to learn and decide for themselves how and when it is best for them to undertake such a task. I knew I needed to research prior to confronting my parents. The last thing I needed was to be unprepared for that amount of emotional influx and to have my PTSD send my flying off the walls. I am lucky enough to have access to a public outreach center in town that provides psych services at scaled cost (much like planned parenthood). I met with a PTSD specialist to discuss my goals and how to handle my emotions should they start to overcome me.

I also met with the PTSD specialist in order to make sure that I was indeed at a point in my recovery that I could do this without setting back any of the hard work I had put in. The last thing I needed to accidentally do was to undo any of my recovery. The counselor was a dream to work with, and after only a single session she felt that I wAs in a solid enough place mentally to speak to my family without any ill affects. I discussed extensively with her confrontation tactics, best case versus worst case scenarios, and coping mechanisms should things become too triggering and intense for me.

Also vital in this process was the involvement of Significant Other. He was present through the whole thing; from initial conception of the idea, to the final execution. I really truly could not have done it without him, as I very nearly chickened out at the last second. He held my hand (literally) throughout everything and couldn't have been more supportive. His calm support helped keep me calm and resolved.

And that was it. I wrote down what I wanted to say, to ensure that I would say what I wanted/needed to, in the order it needed to be said. I read everything off, listened to my parents' responses and had a brief discussion with them about the whole thing. Afterward, I felt lighter. I wasn't scared anymore, because everything was out in the open. The sensation of calm in my mind was so refreshing and uplifting.

Being able to talk to my parents about my trauma was a goal not easily attained, and it required a decent amount of prep work. As I said before, I sincerely hope that through the sharing of my experiences that I will be able to help other survivors. Doing so also furthers my own catharsis. By speaking out, writing here on this blog, and being hands-on in my crime prevention and self-defense work, I want to reduce the number of women who have to share my experiences, and to empower other survivors.