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!
 
 

"Is Kim Jong Un a woman?"

My friend threw that question out to a group of us sitting and watching TV, hoping for an answer. This was my chance. “Well, to the best of my knowledge, he identifies as a man.” Not a bad start, right?

“But he looks like a woman...”

Take two. “I see what you mean, he’s certainly androgynous in some aspects. But I think he identifies as male so...yeah.”

The conversation didn’t end there. We continued on about pronouns and what to do if you’re unsure of someone’s pronoun usage. What started as a simple question turned into a full discussion of identity. If you have a self identity, does it matter what you look like? No. It doesn’t. Just like the points in Whose Line Is It Anyway, it doesn't quite matter , and what's more is no one challenges anyone else on the points they claim, they respect that Wayne Brady has 50,000,000,000 million points and they roll on.

As Meg said, “If I self identified as a starfish, and wanted to be called a starfish, you can’t change that. You can choose not to respect it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I identify as a starfish. ” I couldn’t put it better myself. If someone wants me to respect their starfishness, I’ma do that. Why not? I’d want to respect my non-starfishness too.  If someone wants me to call them starfish, what does it matter to me? In fact, I now know they want to be called starfish. Why wouldn’t I respect their identity?

“But should people be allowed to have surgery and change their god-given sex?” (We had already been over the difference between gender and sex)

Wait, what? Granted it was a curious tone (much better than if it was accusatory), but any time “god-given” makes an appearance it’s cat city.

“Well, people change all kinds of things about themselves. People dye their hair or change their name. Why not have your body reflect the person that you envision yourself to be?”

We came to the conclusion, after a bit, that no matter what, people should feel comfortable. Identity is self determined and everyone should be respectful to how others identify. After knowing these kids for 18 years, it took that long for us to legit talk about this stuff. After the Pride For All workshop, I keep thinking about what I learned. If this came up a week ago, I don’t think we would’ve jumped into this. With my first educating discussion out of the way, I’m ready to do it again.

Have you had any awesome, stimulating discussions recently? Let us know in the comments or tell us about it in our facebook space or tweet it to us! Can’t wait to hear about them.

 
 
Ted here! 

We had a Pride For All workshop for the interns at Collaboratory 4.0 (our stellar office space) last week. Some great questions with even better answers. The one’s I’m gonna share with you today are all about WORDS - words to use, words to avoiding using, and why. Read on!
What does queer mean and is it okay to use?

One thing that is very important with the word queer is to recognize that in the past it was used exclusively as a slur.  This can make some people very uncomfortable to use the term.  When it was used as a slur it was always used as a noun, “You’re queer,” or “Those queers.”  However, many people use the term queer now in a positive way and feel comfortable identifying with the term - but only as an adjective.  If you want to use queer in a positive way you must use it as an adjective, “Shiela identifies as queer,” or “There are a lot of queer identified individuals in my spanish literature class.” 

Queer is an umbrella term that is used both as a sexuality label and sometimes as a gender identity or a political label.  The easiest way to think of queer in terms of sexuality is anyone who is not straight.  So if you could be categorized as gay, lesbian, bisexaul, pansexual, etc. you could also identify as queer.  Some people enjoy the flexibility of this term because you don’t have to indicate that you’re only attracted to people of the same sex or otherwise - it simply indicates that you’re...not straight.  Some people also use queer as a gender identity label.  In this case you might hear people use the term “genderqueer” which identifies someone who largely does not identify as a man or a woman but as somewhere in between the two categories, a combination or as a separate group all together.  Some people also use queer as a political or ideological label, and this is mainly seen in academia.  The majority of the time that you here the word queer - however - it is referring to someone’s sexuality that is not straight. 

What are the offensive words?

There are many offensive words and people should keep in mind that identity labels - both self-identified and otherwise - when used aggressively and negatively can really be offensive.  For example, Meg identifies as a lesbian, and if someone were to say/shout/call to Meg, “You [negative word] lesbian,” regardless of the fact that Meg uses that word proudly it would become an aggressive attack because of how it was used.


I think that the words that people don’t know are offensive are quite limited.  Saying queer as a noun is offensive.  Using the term transvestite is largely considered offensive (the non-offensive word is cross-dresser).  The term that I think that surprises people the most that I encourage people to not use is ‘homosexual’.   At least for gay people in my generation this term is quite loaded with negative, clinical, and political connotations.  When people who are “anti-gay” speak about the LGBTQ community they largely use the term homosexual.  When being gay was still a mental disorder the term that was in the DSM was “homosexual/homosexuality”.  And because it is a noun (where as the term gay is not) homosexual can often feel like an summary of oneself as a single identity rather than just simply a part of their identity.  I.E. Mike is a homosexual vs. Mike is a gay Irish guy who plays basketball.  It feels different.  So if you want to be inclusive - try to stay away from that term - most gay individuals that I know feel a little oogey about it. 

Other offensive language can include faggot, dyke, (no) homo, that’s so gay, tranny, and many more.  While sometimes you may hear members of the LGBTQ community using these terms themselves - this does not make them less offensive.  Remember that self-identifying as a “fag” can be/feel very different than someone else calling you a fag.  Ever met someone who calls themselves a umm... bitch for example, but would not appreciate you calling them that?  Self-identity is untouchable and while someone may identify however they like, others using that term towards them can feel very different. 


Do words get “reclaimed” if they were at one point offensive?

This is a tricky question.  One could argue that words never truely get “reclaimed” and that when they’ve been used a particular way its really hard to get another connotation/definition to stick.  Then again we used to use the word gay to mean someone who is incredibly happy (and I assure you all gay people are all the time but that’s besides the point) and now we use it to indicate someone’s sexuality.  So words defintions/connotations can change over time - but reclaiming a word can often mean using it as a positive indicator/identifier for a group when it was previously used negatively with the same group of people.  Queer for example was used (as a noun) negatively to identify people who were not straight.  This word has been “reclaimed” and is now used positively (as an adjective) to indicate the same group of people.  Some would argue it can’t be “reclaimed” because for so many individuals (queer and not queer) this word is loaded with negative connotations. 

There are many words outside of sexuality or gender identifying terms that are attempting to be, have been, or some believe to be “reclaimed” by a group to be used as a term of empowerment rather than a term of negativity or disenfranchisement.  I believe it is a super duper complicated issue because for some it is an incredibly powerful experience and ability to use a term that people thought was a negative as a empowering identity label.  However, when you keep that word in circulation, you remind others of it, it can sometimes have negative results.  Double edge sword I believe is the image here.

Hope you enjoyed these (and perhaps found them enlightening, helpful, awe-inspiring?) as much as I did. It’s crazy how words can have different meanings and connotations depending on how they are used. They can build ya up or knock ya down and its always good to know which you’re doing when you use them.  Please feel free to retweet or share these - spread da word about these words! 

As the ever-so-wise Tigger from Winnie the Pooh says, “TTFN - ta ta for now!”
~Ted

 
 
Hey there everyone!

We’re backattack with some more vocabulary to be throwing your way!  

Vocab is one of those things that is forever changing and is super uber important.  It makes people feel more comfortable (or not); it can indicate your opinions even before you ever get to expressing them, and it can send powerful messages of affirmation (or not).

TODAY! We’re going to tackle the L, the G, and the Q of the ever common LGBTQ sandwich-y thing (it sounds a little like a sandwich one right? Right? Right.)

Moving right along!

L is for Lesbian
           Lesbian: Noun (or adjective) 
           Refers to a woman who is romantically, emotionally, and/or physically attracted to 
           other women. 

This term is a female exclusive term (as far as I know)!  While the majority of the time it is used as a noun, as in “Meg is a lesbian,” it can also be used as an adjective, “Meg identifies as lesbian.”  While lesbian is a female exclusive term this doesn’t not mean that women who fall under this definition only use this term.  There are many women who are attracted to other women who identify and more readily use the term gay rather than lesbian (but this tends to be a younger generation thing). 

In a sentence!
Noun:  “Wow, there are a lot of women who happen to be lesbians on the Dutch field hockey team.”
Adj: “Sammy usually identifies as gay, but she sometimes also identifies as lesbian.”

    Fun Fact - Many women I personally know who are younger prefer the word gay to describe 
    their sexuality because it is used as an adjective (and an adjective only).  Therefore it feels 
    more like an additionally part of their personality, rather than summing up them entirely as 
    describing themselves as a noun can feel.  It is the difference between Meg is blonde vs. Meg 
    is a blonde.  Meg is gay vs Meg is a lesbian.  

G is for Gay 
           Gay: Adjective 
           Refers to an individual of a particular sex (or gender) who is romantically, emotionally, 
           and/or physically attracted to other individuals of that same sex (or gender). 

This term is often used to refer to men who are attracted to other men - i.e. gay guys - but it can also be used by women.  Gay is one of those adjective only terms, it should not be used as a noun. 

In a sentence!
Jason Collins is gay, tall, and awesome.”

Q is for Queer
           Queer: Adjective
           Refers to anyone who identifies outside of the expectation for the norm, so it might be 
           used as an identifier term by anyone who is not straight and cisgender.

When used in reference to sexuality, queer refers to any sexuality that is not straight.  This can include (but is not limited to) gay, bisexual, lesbian, or anything in-between.  Queer can also be used as an identity term meaning anyone who is outside the expectation for the norm in reference to gender identity.

The word queer has been reclaimed by many LGBTQ people.  It used to be used as an insult towards people who were perceived as gay.  Because of this usage some stigma and resistance remains attached to the word and many times people of an older generation feel uncomfortable using the word positively because it was for so long used as a negative term (and it was used as a noun).  However, many younger individuals feel comfortable using the term (as an adjective) and enjoy its flexibility as it allows people to mark themselves as not straight or cisgender (see the last blog post for a definition of cisgender) without having to assume a specific label.  Particularly if you identify outside the gender binary (as neither man nor woman) many other labels for your sexuality may not make sense any longer and you may feel most comfortable using the term queer because it is a broad category.  

In a sentence!
“John identifies as queer because he enjoys the fact that the term is inclusive!”

Allllrighty everyone!
Thanks for tuning in, hope you found this post helpful/enlightening/the wind beneath your wings. Please add your thoughts or comments in the comments!

Back at you soon!
Rainbows!

Meg and Becca
 
 
Hey everyone!

Becca here - Pride for All’s newest addition to the team!  Since I’m returning for only my second time here on the Pride Blog I  thought I would (re)introduce myself.   I’m a high school senior living in PA and adventuring off to UVM next year!  I wanted to share with you today a little bit about my experiences/observations from working with middle school / high school students (and many adults) over the last few years on gender and sexuality issues.

Onward!

Recently, I have been talking to middle school students about gender and sexuality. These conversations have always involved a discussion about what type of language is best to use when talking about different people's gender identity and/or sexual orientation.  A lot of times during these conversations it has become clear that the kids aren't even aware that they are using hurtful language.  More recently I’ve notice that this issue is not limited to kids, that many adults I’ve encountered are also unintentionally using harmful language.

Here’s a personal example.  When I come out to someone and tell them that I am asexual, some people respond by telling me that it is just a stage I will “outgrow.”  I know that many of these people are generally accepting of different sexual orientations, and I’m not sure that these individuals realize how hurtful/confusing the idea that I will “outgrow” my identity can feel.

For me, when people say that I will “outgrow” my sexuality, I find it problematic for a couple reasons.  First, when people make the assertion that my identity is just a phase, to me it implies that they don’t believe my feelings right now are my “true” identity.  And it is hard/uncomfortable to feel that I have to defend/assert my sexuality.  Additionally, I find the idea that I will “outgrow” my current asexual identity problematic because I don’t believe that identity is stable - for many people identity can be fluid and therefore it is not a sign of maturity or growth to shift identities (if that were to happen) it is simply just an aspect of identity. However, that doesn't make what that person is experiencing at the time any less valid.

Even when there is an identity you haven’t heard about before, it is important to be accepting of it.  There isn’t much awareness or understanding of asexuality, bisexuality, or many other sexualities, but that doesn’t mean these identities are any less valid, real, or important.  Remember that if someone is coming out to you, it can be a big deal for that person, so it is especially critical that you are supportive.  So, if you want to be/keep being an awesome ally, be supportive of all identities!  And be supportive of people as their understanding of their identity changes.  It’s an opportunity to learn more! You could even go learn more about the identities you haven’t heard about before!

See y’all again real soon!

Peace!
Becca
 
 
Where is a good place to find out what words are best to use for the LGBTQ community?
This was a question that I was asked recently in a workshop and I honestly couldn’t think of an answer off the top of my head.  I wanted to say, "My website!" but I know that that is not YET true!  In an effort to make this essential knowledge more accessible and tangible to all of you who haven’t attended a workshop (or would love a refresher) here we go!

This blog post is going to be the first in a series of posts about WORDS.  Words are powerful, important, and rapidly changing.

For some of you this maybe new knowledge and for others perhaps old news.  I hope regardless, you will add your voice and thoughts to the conversation in the comments!

We are gonna start off this week with some A, B, Cs!

A is for Ally
      Ally: Noun 
      Refers to someone who supports and respects the LGBTQ community.  The 
      majority of the time 
      this is used by someone who does not personally identify as LGBTQ. 

This term can be used more generally but within this context - this is the definition that we will use! Many people will use this term ally to indicate themselves as a person who is actively involved in advocating or supporting the LGBTQ community.

In a sentence!
“Andy is an incredibly active ally.”

A is for Asexual / Asexuality
      Asexual: Noun / Adjective
      Refers to a sexuality were an individual experiences low and/or a lack of 

      sexual attraction towards other individuals.  Asexuality is a spectrum (or 
      range) of sexualities. [more on this soon!]

Asexual does not indicate that someone lacks romantic attraction to others [as mentioned...more on this soon!].  Additionally, someone who identifies as asexual may use the term “Ace” (which I think is a pretty great term) to describe themselves or other people who identify as asexual.  Their pride colors are grey, purple and black and some use the ace of spades as a symbol of pride.

In a sentence! 
Noun: “Rodney identifies as an Ace.” 
Adjective: “Rodney is asexual but not aromantic.”

B is for Bisexual/Bisexuality
      Bisexual: Noun / Adjective
      An individual who is attracted to more than one sex (or gender). 

While bisexuality has “bi” a root that means two right in the word, many bisexual individuals would expand this definition to include more than just the binary identities of male/female or men/women.  Additionally, being bisexual does not imply an equal attraction to the different sexes/genders.   Bisexuality also does not indicate that the bisexual individual is interested in dating more than one person at a time.  Many people will use the word “bi” to indicate bisexual - that is a-ok to do!

In a sentence! 
Noun: “Casey is an awesome and inspiring bisexual man.”
Adjective:
“Casey identifies as bisexual.”

C is for Cisgender
      Cisgender: Adjective
      In the society we live in we expect female-bodied people to identify as omen 

      (and males to identify as men).  If you do - you are cisgender!  People who 
      do not identify their gender with the sex that they were assigned at birth are 
      trans*(gender) (to be defined later). 

Use of this word (with this definition) is real new.  It first appeared in scholarly articles and widespread on the internet in the mid-1990s.  It came into regular usage far after the word transgender/transsexual came into common usage. 

In a sentence!
"Meg is cisgender even though she sometimes looks like a 14 year old boy."

Alrighty! Well that wraps up our first post for words matter! Hope you found it helpful and I hoped it can *spark some conversation!  Please feel free to add questions or thoughts in the comments (and add words you would like to see defined in the future!

All questions are fair game!

Best to everyones!
Meg