Mind your Ps and Qs
I'm an English major, gen/sex minor, and creative writing concentrator. Gen/sex and queer issues have always been of interest to me though I've never really figured out why. I was involved in my high school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and I'm involved in the Rainbow Alliance here at BMC. This interest in queer issues more or less a first in my immediate family. When I applied to intern at several AIDS organizations in Philly, I can quote my parents saying: "What is your connection to the gays? Are you aware of their wild and crazy parades?" to which I replied, "Yes, and I have practically been in some of them."
I think this perspective my parents have on the queer population is a common one, though I had previously thought it was less common and more of an inside joke in this day. I thought it was history.
I love my parents more than anything, and I know they love me too. But I can't imagine trying to teach them about queer issues (specifically transgender BMC kids and "queer" as an identity) without outing half of my friends. I don't want to hide the identities of my friends, but I don't want to put them in a situation that might make them uncomfortable. But if I don't try to teach my parents, am I giving up on them? Is it possible to change their perspective?
The exception to my family is my younger sister. I think my presence and activeness in the queer community is something that is shaping her as well. When she was younger, I could quote her saying "isn't that the bad kind of gay?" whereas now she takes part in activities such as Day of Silence, which is often the height of activism for younger kids in my town (nonetheless, a good stepping stone). So when I see her now, I think "Yes! I did a good job! There is potential for change here!" even though I never really tried to explain to my parents why it's so important to care about these issues.
I don't fear for my safety or being disowned from my family for trying to talk about queer issues. Sometimes I fear that they'll take my words too literally or gang up on me in a way that makes me feel like I'm defending myself. But does it make me a hypocrite not to try?
One of my continuous long term goals is to gain the language and the knowledge to educate others about these issues. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there.