Recently, I made a visit to UC Davis’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual Resource Center. I have worked at UC Davis and I have continued ties to the university. The LGBTQIA Resource Center is an amazing space and resource for UC Davis students. Amidst all of the information and opportunities to learn about gender, sexuality, and intersecting identities, I noticed a poster advertising for a previous year's Queer Leadership Retreat. I was inspired by one of the retreat’s themes:
“We Are More Than You Think.”
There is such an abundance of misinformation and societal fear that often misconstrues diverse genders, sexualities, ethnicities, relationship configurations. I have found in my work with people that folks often arrive to therapy feeling confused, disconnected, and scared. These feelings are often informed by experiences in the world of being invalidated, demonized, and in some cases criminalized. Unfortunately, psychology has also played a role in perpetuating harm (e.g., remember the Tuskegee experiments, the presence of "homosexuality" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IQ testing and proposed White intellectual superiority?) Sometimes it seems that we as humans find so many ways to hurt, alienate, and/or push to control others identities, behaviors, and general ways of being in the world. So, the "what you think" is often replete with sexist, racist, heterosexist, and transphobic commentary that obscures who we are as complete and full human beings. In a world with an abundance of judgments and specific expectations, it can be easy to forget who we are and our creative connected capabilities.
When I think about the "more than," I reflect on what often happens within connected community and relationships. How these types of spaces provide the location and safety for people to develop and reinforce different types of ideas about specific identities, while also allowing room to de-construct socially oppressive ideas. The "more than" emphasizes the accomplishments, positive contributions, and provides visibility to individuals who have often resided on the social margin. These are the spaces for healing, amplified voice, and validation!