Trying to write a new website is like trying to brush your teeth with one bristle left on your brush.  Sure, you’ll get there eventually, but you might want to poke your eye out before you finish the job.

We’ve all been there.  If not with a new website, then with a paper, a card to grandma, a post-it that was supposed to be a quick “hello, I left for the gym” but ended up with coffee stains and butter fingerprints twice before it finally made it to the fridge.  It is not the funnest of the things.  

The worst part is being bombarded by people who make it all look effortless. Like my friend here, or my copywriting/marketing idol.  They have this beautiful finished product, and you are staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor.  

I know that’s where I’m at.  My website is currently a muddy mess of good ideas and crap sentences and trying to sort through them seems harder than simply starting fresh.  Clean slates are purdy...they make us feel like it’s all gonna be ok (and it is!).
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO THROW IT ALL AWAY

When you delete all the work that you’ve done, you don’t learn from it.  A blank slate doesn’t have that sentence that you crafted and actually feel good about.  It doesn't have that bullet pointed list or that killer opening sentence.  WHY!?  Because you threw the baby out with the bathwater (zomg let’s not do that).  So before I go “editing,” my website I’m going to do a few things:

- Scan through and look for some winner winner chicken dinner sentences.  And hold on tight to them.
- Figure out what I do and do not like about my current pages and draft.  Why? So that I don’t make the same mistakes again.  And again. 
- Write myself some “rules,”  guidelines, tricks and tips.  What is it that I love about my idol’s website?  When does she use “I” vs. “we” statements?  How does Sam talk about all the different parts of his business and how does he guide you through it all?  How can I make sure my webbersite rocks?  Trying to answer that question before I try to execute it is going to make it a whole lot easier to answer.

SO NEXT TIME

Before you throw away what you worked hard on...even if you hate it lots, try those things.  Maybe even leave the greasy drafts around to remind you how far you’ve come.  Plus, who doesn’t love to see that someone wrote DRAFTS of their love notes?  Seriously, that stuff is cute.

HUGS AND RAINBOWS
Meg
 
 
Howdy! We had some great questions from our open workshop at Collaboratory 4.0 the other night. Warning below you will find some advanced vocab, double warning you can do it. Expect to be educated. Hope you like it!
Can you talk more about people who do not identify as male or female (e.g. genderqueer, 3rd gender, etc.)? How does that relate to sexuality labels (e.g. bisexual, hetero, homo)?

We can talk more about people who don’t identify as male or female or men or woman and their sexuality but I will be the first to admit that my exposure and interactions with these people has been limited and since I really prefer to talk from places of personal experience (or at very least second hand - someone else’s personal experience) what I know is limited.

There are many (and I would say a growing number) of people who identify outside of the man/woman binary.  Genderqueer as I defined above, agender (does not identify as having a gender), 3rd gender (I don’t have a clear definition but I would say distinctly not man or woman identified), and I’m sure there are many more identity terms as well.  I’ve also heard people use the term trans and not add man or woman to the end to identify as someone who is in transition but wishes to exist in the middle area (but this is not the common definition for trans... just fyi).

I know someone who is female bodied, identifies as genderqueer, is dating a woman who identifies as gay.  I know someone else who is female bodied, identifies as genderqueer, is dating a woman, and identifies as straight.  I would say that again because so many of our labels are dependant on the binary system - once you get outside of the binary system - all bets are off.  These two people I know don’t really care if you use male or female pronouns, sometimes they prefer the pronouns “they” but other times they don't’ really mind.  Because they identify outside of a binary system its really up to them what term they use (though obviously people are going to make their own assumptions based on perceived gender of them and their partner. And like I said last night, self-identity is untouchable, they both identify their sexuality differently even though many people would say they are both in a lesbian relationship.  Remember, I’m a starfish.    


When you discuss queer as not a term related to gender, what about genderqueer people? Can they identify as queer?

So queer is a term that is used in a lot of different ways.  When I first introduce queer, and the majority of the time that I hear the term it is referring to a sexuality - so that’s how I first defined it in the workshop.  Queer can also be used as a gender identity - some people would say just queer or some people would use the term genderqueer.  To the best of my knowledge genderqueer is a term for an individual who feels neither man nor woman or some combination of the two.  They fall in the middle (or some would say outside) of that spectrum between man and woman.  Queer has also been used as a political identity to talk about a particular alignment with non-heteronormative beliefs or political ideologies.  Straight people who identify as politically queer or want to make it known that they wish to operate outside of the heteronormative norms (the way that straight relationships are supposed to be and straight people are supposed to behave) can therefore also identify as straight.  I find that both in terms of gender identity and political identity that these terms are found much more in the world of academics or higher education than in the rest of society.  This fact doesn’t make them less valid just less widely understood I’ve found.   I really like wiki for these topics - I find it has some great additional information if you want to dive a little deeper. 


Stay tuned for more helpful knowledge coming your way (you checked out our new youtube video right?).  We're pumped about upgrade coming to the website which is on the way. Until next time, keep it real.

 
 
Hey there everyone!

Just wanted to drop our new video in your hands!
We would love to know what you think!

Do you want more?  Something different?

Let us know!


Cheers!
Megs
 
 
Straight allies are super important. Ever wonder how to be a good ally? Well, there’s no right answer to that. Just be your (awesome) self. Want a little help that is more specific?  See what Meg has to say about it!

How can I communicate to my orientation group that I am open to LGBTQ community although I don’t know everything about it.  Just by being approachable?   How do I address that I am an ally to my group without making other people feel uncomfortable?

You know what is awesome, the best thing you can do sometimes is tell people you don’t know everything.  It is both incredibly freeing to you (because then if you mess up then hey you’ve already admitted you don’t know everything) and its incredibly freeing to others because if they mess up they know that even you, their leader, doesn’t know everything.  So sometimes, even when you think you know quite a bit, its still really empowering to say, “Listen, I don’t know everything, I’m always learning, but let me tell you a little bit about things that I’ve learned.”

I think that the best way to communicate to your orientation group that you’re open to the LGBTQ community is to talk about it.  We here at Pride for All have the ultimate goal of *sparking the conversation.  Why?  Because it makes the biggest and most dramatic change to talk about these issues and experiences in normal everyday environments.  Mention the awesome workshop you went to (seriously even if you didn’t think it was awesome - great excuse to bring the topic up), talk about an event that happened on campus, about a group on campus that addresses LGBTQ issues.  Any of these things will be wonderful jumping off points for having a conversation about LGBTQ issues and once you’re talking you can mention, “Yeah, I would consider myself an ally, I mean I know that I am not aware of everything, but I really enjoy learning about these issues and experiences and I think its important to talk about!”  


GO and be approachable with your bad self!


There you have it. The more we admit we don’t know, the easier things can be. Any ally stories out there? Let us know in the comment section! Or! Give a shout out on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll be back with more questions soon!
 
 
Dying for more questions and answers? Today’s your lucky day! Meg did a workshop last Friday for some future Orientation Leaders at Simmons College in Boston. Here are some questions she fielded and her answers! These ones all have to do with orientation groups.

Enjoy!

Is it too intrusive to start the orientation meeting by asking them what gender pronouns they prefer?

I don’t think that it is too intrusive - simply because most people are going to answer how you would expect them too and likely won’t think anything of it once you move on.  If someone, however, does feel more comfortable using a pronoun that others won’t assume then they may really appreciate the opportunity.   


What do I do if I’m gay and one of my orientation-ees tells me that they have a problem with gay people?

I personally think that you’re less likely getting someone saying flat out, “I have a problem with gay people,” then someone saying something that could be interpreted as homophobic and you having to address it then.  I think you have a few options in either case.

Option 1:  Make it about the action itself and the consequences at large.

If someone makes a homophobic comment or uses a word/phrase that is derogatory in some way address it.  Inquire first, then give them feedback, and then tell them how to correct the action.

“Hey! So I hear you say the word “fag” and I don’t know if you knew that some people find that word really uncomfortable and can feel really unsafe when people use that word”  

What is great is when you inquire - you don’t put them on the defensive - you are informing them that perhaps they didn’t know - and therefore you’re not accusing them of any motivations behing the actions.

“Right yeah, I know that a lot of people use that word all the time, and don’t mean anything by it, but it can really make some people uncomfortable”

Normalize their action - a lot of people use language that is homophobic but don’t have homophobic intentions behind it - so its best when you let them know how it affects people. 

“I would personally really appreciate if you could choose a different word next time.”

If the person says, “I know that it offends people, I think that gay people are really creepy and weird” then you have a slightly different situation on your hands.  At that point it would be best to point out to them that, ok that’s your opinion but that you’re in a group setting and not everyone holds that opinion and that negative language really isn’t OK at Simmons or within this specific setting.  You’re not telling them, “You’re crazy for not digging gay people” but you are pointing out that not everyone may share that opinion and that offending people purposefully isn’t really an awesome thing to do.  You could also let them know that a lot of people that they may interact with in the coming years maybe gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and that they should consider that their language may ostracize these people before they really get to know them.  By focusing on the action (i.e. language) not the person (i.e. their beliefs) I believe you can go a lot father with the conversation. 

Option 2: Make it personal
Instead of saying, “it offends people” you could say, “it makes me personally uncomfortable and feel unsafe when you say that.”  Sometimes making it personal can have it make more of an impact, but its a very personal choice. 


Question time helps me think. I didn’t think of those questions, but I definitely want to know what to do if I’m in a similar situation. More awesome workshop questions to follow. Stay tuned!