Create Space for Equity Series
The "How to Create Space for Equity" series was born out of the desire to create conversation. We want to learn from other organizations who face oppression and inequity, and see how that intersects with audism and ableism. Learning and growing from these parallels are imperative to overcome barriers in our community.
This conversation is provided in American Sign Language and in English.
If your organization is interested in working with Adjacent Space please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) - November 12, 2020
In this talk MCAC and Adjacent Space share about the experiences of racism and homophobia intersecting with the experiences of audism and ableism, and how we all can make our communities stronger by breaking down barriers, and including more people at the table.
Lauren Jacobs is the Youth Programs Coordinator at Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) in Birmingham, Alabama. At MCAC, Lauren provides community building, sexual wellness/healthy relationship education, and STI testing and for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24.
Lauren was a principal organizer for the Southeastern LGBTQ Student Leadership Conference, offering space for hundreds of students to build a diverse community of LGBTQ southerners. She has contributed writing to Autostraddle.com, the world's biggest queer women's website, and served as associate producer to Alabama Bound, an award-winning documentary that has brought stories of lesbian families in Alabama to screens around the country.
Trey Gordon is the President for Adjacent Space and the brains behind the direction and shape of the non profit structure. He drives the mission, policies, procedures and facilitates many conversations through events such as Think Tank.
Trey Gordon is fully Deaf (emphasis on capitalization of “D” in deaf). He grew up in Alabama, attended the state school for the Deaf, and went to Gallaudet University, the only university in the world whose primary language in its college curriculum is ASL. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he lived in India for almost four months serving their Deaf community, and learning Indian Sign Language. He then went on to complete a masters’ degree in public administration and a certificate in nonprofit management. His experience and upbringing led him to notice omissions and failures to recognize the needs of our communities, and he wanted to be a part of a grassroots-fueled organization that could revolutionize the community with accessibility.
- Hi everyone, thank you for joining us tonight on the Zoom call as well as on Facebook Live, and to our future viewers. I am Lashawnda Lowe. I am the Diversity Leader at Adjacent Space and we have Loren Jacobs from Magic City Acceptance Center and Trey Gordon from Adjacent Space. The How To Create Space for Equity series came together in the spirit of allyship and partnership with like-minded organizations and representatives of minority and under privileged groups. We want to learn more from others about how we can achieve equity from those who experience oppression, inequities, inaccessible community life and more. Just a little housekeeping. Please remember to keep your videos off and muted. We also have captions available. If you have a question you can use the chat, but we may not be able to get to it because of time, but if we are, then we will answer your questions. So, Trey and Lauren to start us off, and so that we can get to know you, we would like for you to introduce yourself, share any identities that are important to you, such as race, ethnicity, deaf, hard of hearing, gender, et cetera. Briefly talk about MCAC, Adjacent Space and its mission for the community and briefly talk about how each of you were brought to the non-profit MCAC and Adjacent Space world and why. With that, we will turn it over to the two of you.
- Lauren, you wanna go first?
- Okay, I prepared. It's a lot, but I'm ready, so. My name is Lauren Jacobs. My pronouns are she, her, hers, and I'm the Youth Program's coordinator at Magic Center Acceptance Center here in Birmingham. So, I am a black, queer, woman. I also identify as gender queer. I identify as an Alabamian. I like to carry that into spaces. I'm from Birmingham and I've been born and raised here, and I feel incredibly lucky to be kind of, well not tasked, but I feel really lucky that I get to do work in the LGBTQ community here where I'm from. So, growing up here around college, I had friends in high school who were like, you're a black, queer woman from Alabama. You need to leave, this is your chance. Go, go away. But, I ended up going to the University of Alabama and I tell people all the time, that's where I found connection to queer community. That's where I found amazing activist spirit, an amazing spirit of people who were like, you deserve to be here. You're from here, everybody should be able to thrive exactly where they are from. And so, I got to do a lot of student activism in college. I was a leader in our campus LGBTQ group. And then, right as I was graduating I moved back to Birmingham at the same time that Birmingham AIDS Outreach was planning for an LGBTQ Youth Center. So, that was 2013/2014 that center opened and I did everything that I could to be here and work here 'cause I could never have imagined that this space would exist when I was younger. So, since 2014 we've grown into a fully fledged community space, an LGBTQ community space with programs for youth and adults. Youth is still very much the heart of what we do. HIV is still very much at the heart of what we do. But, generally speaking, we create spaces for LGBTQ people to connect and find resources, and particular for youth, to have a space where they can just be themselves and come gather after school or for our annual prom that we would normally do. Since COVID we've moved everything online, so our young folks are still connecting in a Discord server and having text based conversations every, every morning, Monday through Thursday, and every afternoon on Tuesday and Thursday. And what we're, the thing about that so far is it's allowed us to be accessible to youth across the entire state, and in a discreet way. So, young people who have never been able to access our programs before, as long as they do a quick intake with us they can join our online server and get connected that way.
- Thank you for sharing your journey. So, you said you identified, you were born and raised and your upbringing, I think I feel a connection there. Again, my name is Trey Gordon. I was born deaf. I grew up in Talladega, Alabama. I attended the Alabama School for the Deaf there in Talladega. I learned American sign language. My parents are deaf. They taught me ASL growing up. I graduated from the School for the Deaf, ASD, and then I left to attend Gallaudet University in Washington DC, the deaf's university. It's the only university in the world specifically for deaf and hard of hearing people, where ASL is the primary language. I graduated from Gallaudet and worked for a little bit. I traveled. I went to India for a while. I was involved in a deaf program, helped establish a deaf program there. It was a wonderful experience. I learned a new sign language, Indian sign language. Returned to the US to UAB for my graduate program. But, you know I failed to know where I was. Alabama was always with me. Sweet Home Alabama. And so, you know, when you, you talked about having pride in Alabama, I am also a proud Alabamian. I can really relate with that. Again, I'm the co-founder along with Angelica Hill of Adjacent Space. And we call it AS, but we don't really have, we haven't really figured out a sign, a specific sign for Adjacent Space, so we just abbreviate it AS. But, we recognize that there are a variety of communities out there, deaf, hard of hearing, deaf blind people, who are oppressed or under privileged, under privileged people who have been marginalized and we wanna recognize that it's time to confront and see if we can resolve these problems and remove the barriers so that people have pathways to success in their lives. So, no matter what the situation may be, you know, because our community is your community as well. And we have a community, you have a community, we can work together and that's basically what our organization is about. We have online events that we've been hosting. We have deaf/hard of hearing interpreters, anyone who is a signer, you know. Of course the internet is great and we can connect with peers and support one another. It's been pretty cool. Of course, you have COVID this year. We have been meeting in person, but now we're meeting through video conferencing such as Zoom. We've been able to host some game nights. It's great to see how tech has grown and honestly, I think that has caused things to become more equitable for us. And we're noticing these issues that COVID has been impacting. Masks have become an issue. When people are wearing masks we, we lose a good bit of our language because expression is a huge part of American sign language. And so now, when you have your faces covered, we missing that part of the facial expression. So that's an issue that's come up that we've needed to address. You know, how can we resolve the issue? In the deaf community, how can we guarantee that communication access is there for everybody, whether we're experiencing COVID currently or not. So, I guess that's, I think I said enough about that. Oh, oh how do I identify? I am deaf, I am a deaf Alabamian and I don't have a number of privileges that other people do not have. I often share about my experiences with other deaf people. I am aware that young people have multiple identities. So, I like sharing other people's experiences. I'm the only person that has my specific experience, but I know that I'm very privileged as well. White, male, Christian, and those things show up in my life and also impact my communication. So, that's one of the main reasons that I've been really looking forward to having this conversation with you and the audience here is to you know, talk about the concepts and the world as we view it and I guess that's why we're here tonight. So, I guess move along to the first question. That sound good?
- Okay, let me see. Okay, here we are. In the deaf community a huge issue is communication barriers. Hearing people often are not willing, they don't want to or simply ignorant of learning American sign language or being able to do extra or meet the needs of deaf people as far as communication is concerned. A lot of time it has to do with attitude. It's my way or the highway. They're not going to meet people halfway. But, that can be a big hurdle that we face. So, the LGBTQ community, when you meet at first and whether it's at work or it's a friend or a family and you wanna share things, what kinda barriers do you experience?
- Yeah, I think that unwillingness to, to learn and to make space is huge for us as well in the LGBTA community. And I shouldn't even say us there, right. I wanna acknowledge the intersectionalities that a person can obviously belong to both communities. But yeah, I think there is a, there is a learning curve sometimes on language barriers and about how to appropriately make space for people. The conversation around pronouns has really highlighted that. You know, making sure that we're not just automatically gendering people and assigning them pronouns. There are a lot of people who push back to that. And there are a lot of people who push back on the idea of they, them, their as a singular pronoun. We talk all the time about how if you're pushing back on that idea what you're saying is that your grammar is more important than the person that you're serving or that you have a relationship with. So that unwillingness sometimes is, is huge 'cause I think people don't understand necessarily what they're communicating, unless they do understand what they're communicating and they're being openly biased or bigoted. But yeah, I think you know, we always wanna challenge people to do their research and to really learn how to be supportive of the community and that could be a big barrier as well.
- I'm thinking about you mentioned people not being willing to be open minded. I think frequently an issue or a problem that deaf people experience is how do we gain access to communication. Sometimes we need to ask for an interpreter, maybe for an event or we've got an appointment and the law explicitly states that we have that right. The Americans With Disabilities Act states very clearly that communication access must be provided and it must be the mode that that person requires to have successful communication. You know, it may be out in a business deal and I know communities are concerned about liability and some, some folks, you know, they do provide that access. Well, I know it works if they're willing to learn. Others they see money. And we understand how money can be an issue. This is just an issue that we have confronted, it's kind of ingrained in our society that we've dealt with for years and years and years. And it's like. And you know, like the queer community, they have been around for all of time and they always will be around. So, what kind of avenues do you try to take in order to break down those barriers? People who are just set in their ways and who are intransigent in they're thinking, what methods do you use to try to lower that resistance and to improve access?
- Yeah, I think for us, we do trainings in the community around best practices for different agencies and one of the things that we highlight is the difference in value change versus behavior change. So, sometimes when a really resistant person is in those conversations they're like, well, you're not gonna change what I believe. And for us sometimes that has to be okay. We're not necessarily trying to change what you believe. What we care about is how you treat people. And so, sometimes that's the, that's the middle ground that we find ourselves landing on and saying, okay, you can, you can have your personal beliefs, but if you work at an agency that serves people or you work with people in any way, shape or form, which is all of us for the most part, this is, this is how you need to be, this is what you need to do. This is how you treat people, respectfully. This is about calling people what they wanna be called. It's about making space for people to come out safely in whatever context they're in. And so, sometimes that's a helpful strategy to put it down to behavior change versus value change. We're always gonna ask people to do the gold standard in terms of respect. We're always going to try and boil it down to why it matters and sometimes we joke that those conversations for us are just like, don't be mean 101, 'cause we can go over terminology, we can go over inclusive forms. We can go over all of these things, but at the end of the day it's, it's really don't be mean, believe people when they tell you who they are, and give them the space to show up authentically.
- That helps me realize that the use of pronouns, you mentioned your pronouns, and that's right. It's important. You know, how does that person identify? What is their preferred identity? So, my pronouns are he, him. Just checking with the interpreter. There's a little bit of a freeze. I was just making sure the interpreter saw me. But, thank you for bringing that up again. That's just something that you know, an ongoing conversation that we have to have that's recurring and it's inspiring to see that. I think our society's becoming, well, that, that concept is becoming more widespread in our society. You know, we're seeing more talk about pronouns and how important they are to the individual and to how they identify, you know. We want to feel, we want them to feel right about who they are and we want to address them properly. And I think often that's a point that we tend to miss. Okay, so moving on to the next question. You ready?
- So, you stated that studies state that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing families, and that means that that family has probably never met or had any kind of experience with a deaf person. They don't know ASL. Now they've got this, they're hearing they've got this deaf baby and many choose to make people believe that cochlear implantation is important for their child because they want their baby to be like they are. They don't want, you know, the natural inclination is to not have a baby that's different than you. You want your baby to be like you are. So, that concept of wanting your child to be just like you and wanting kinda homogeneity among you know, the society, that can cause a little bit of a disconnect 'cause a child can grow up with no sign language, miss out on certain aspects of life that the child may need for growth and to feel like they're a complete person and to have a successful life. So in the medical world you know, it's very routine for, let me back up. Does the medical world have a view of the LGBT community that is harmful or that's different? How do you, how do you see the way the medical community views you?
- Yeah, I think there are some huge parallels there. So, on the one hand, in terms of mental health, conversion therapy is still very much a thing that some people advocate for, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has very much said over and over again that it is not an okay thing to do to subject a child to any kind of conversion therapy in the hopes that you can make them straight or make them cisgender when they are trans gender. I know for our intersex community there's a lot of advocacy right now around ending forced surgeries, forced genital surgeries on babies. That idea that we can, we can take a child and conform them to what's expected medically or societally and not let that human being have a say in their care. There are obviously, doctors who are against access to trans gender care for both adults and for children. There's actually a bill in front of the Alabama House right now that would limit access to care for trans gender youth, and it would also require teachers to out trans gender youths to their parents. So, for us when we talk about this it really, I'm probably going to start to sound like a broken record, but it really for us comes down to believing people when they tell you who they are and what they need. And you know, I hate to put it so basically as if to say, if it's not hurting anybody then it's fine, but if it's not hurting anybody, it's fine. So, I think I've been really glad to see a lot of advancements in, especially in Alabama, access to trans gender care. Access to hormone replacement therapy for our trans community has become a lot more widely available. We have a sibling project called the Magic City Wellness Center that's been open for gosh, I think four years now, providing access to care to the entire LGBTQ community as well as allies. Yeah, so it's like it's, it's, it's a doctor's office that does primary care and includes hormone replacement therapy, access to PREP, which is a preventative, once a day HIV pill.
- Just getting clarification from the interpreter, primary care, okay.
- Yeah, so anyone, anyone can go to the Wellness Center and access primary care in that office, but when you walk in those doors you know that you are in a safe space for LGBTQ people that prioritizes safety for LGBTQ people and inclusion for LGBTQ people. So, medical barriers are huge. We know that there are people who have avoided going to the doctor just because they have not wanted to have those conversations or have avoided going to a gynecologist as a trans man, having to have that be an awkward conversation. So, having that safe space is, is huge.
- That's great, wow. To MCAC, they have a resource center and where LGBTQ plus can go to have a place that's safe that they can visit to have their medical needs cared for. And does the MCAC have a list of resources that we could share with the deaf community? Is there something available that we can, a link or something we can share with the deaf community in Alabama for that?
- Yeah, we always encourage people to keep up with us on Facebook and social media, to actually reach out to us directly for those resources that they're looking for. We wanna make sure that we're sending people to what they actually need and helping to walk them through that process. So, we're really particular about the resources that we refer to because often times we'll have people just add themselves to lists of LGBTQ friendly providers and we'll, I mean we talk in the community. And so, people will share actually had a really bad experience with that person. So, we're not gonna refer to that list. So, yeah that's important that we're able to have a specific detailed conversation with people often. And we're happy to do that, too.
- Absolutely. Talkin' about how corporations or individuals can become allies, you know. The community, I guess what I'm getting at is somebody doesn't want somebody else representing them. They want their own representation, you know. You don't have the platform we do. That can be a big issue you know, confronting, dealing with the community and people claiming that they understand us, but we have to say, okay, you don't actually support, you don't represent us, you don't understand us. You know, so we have to be very selective in who we work with to make sure that they genuinely are safe. And you know, because there are organizations who are just looking for clout and looking for recognition in their claims that they support us, when in actuality they don't. So, I was just wondering, so if a person, when you talked about your working with youth, so if there is someone who recognizes that they are LGBTQ, but they're not really sure how to go about asking you for advice, is there anything that you can share or is this all, is the process confidential? Is there anything you can share with how a young person could approach you for help?
- Yeah, I think kind of like you were talking about right now with COVID giving us unique opportunities. For us, since we've moved our programs online, it is really easy for a young person to participate in our online space discreetly if they need to. We know that a lot of young people in Alabama have had to go, being at home, have had to go back into spaces that are not necessarily supportive, supportive of them. School might have been their safe space where they were able to be out to more people, or at least you know, kind of talk about LGBTQ topics a bit more freely. So, for us if a young person is interested in joining our programs the first thing that they should know is that for youth we are open to LGBTQ individuals as well as allies and folks that are questioning recognize that it's really important to hold that space for people who are figuring out their identity or who might just wanna have that safe space to have conversations. So, our online space has been really, really nice in that it doesn't require that you have transportation to get to the building. It doesn't require that you have supportive family or friends that will bring you to the building. It just requires that you have access to a computer or the phone app that Discord is on, which again, is another barrier. I wish there were, there was a way to eliminate all barriers entirely. So, we really just encourage our young people to hop into the space. We do self care workshops around really, in particular, really queer self care workshops. Those have been really great. Our Counseling Department at the Wellness Center has done those as well as a partner called ACE, social and emotional learning, to really give young people that space to voice who they are. And we love that our programs for youth are generally very youth led. We set the space as the adult staff, but we want our youth to run it and say what their needs are. So, that's been really interesting to watch happen in the online space, too, 'cause they can completely guide the conversations and have multiple conversations at once. So, that's been really exciting. I feel like there's something else that you asked that I'm forgetting to answer. Let me know if I forgot. You can remind me.
- No, I think that was perfect. Thank you. When it comes to respecting and seeing a person as they are and what their needs are, they know themselves best, so it's important that we ask them what they need. And another thing is you know, another approach for communication, make sure they've got access. You know, in the deaf community access is key. You've heard a million different stories about people's experiences. They may, maybe they'll go to a medical center or they'll go to the dentist or any service provider that you can think of, and again, it's very clear, they can ask very clearly, I need an interpreter for this appointment. And very often provider will, will kinda focus on different things. Like, they'll say, oh, well let's use video, a video remote interpreter. You know, that's where you can bring in a virtual interpreter, there's a little computer laptop on a cart and the interpreter's there on the screen and that interpreter might be in another state or somewhere far away. So that's a virtual interpreter which can be good, but typically it's best for very short amounts of time, just getting, getting basic information. Whereas, a live interpreter can provide things that a video interpreter cannot provide. For example, body language. There again social queues that a present interpreter can pick up on that a video interpreter may not, and then they can kind of inform the doctor, you know. The doctors think though, if they can see the sign language that's good enough. If you can see their hands, they've got it. But, that still may not meet my specific needs, you know. The doctor may not listen to you know, what I really need and may not know to ask the questions that can lead to you know, real trust between the physician and the patient. So, now you know the deaf community has had these experiences of being marginalized, in being pushed out, and so, they say, what's the point of going to the doctor? They're really not going to see me. They're not gonna see the person that I really am. They're gonna see me as a number. They're gonna see me as patient whatever. So, that's another issue that we're working to change, to influence the community. That's part of what we try to do here within our community. So, okay. I'm really happy that you brought that up. You defend the process. You know, you're empowering youth and you're running that site. That's great. So, you've got, the youth are saying, these people see me, they understand me. That builds excitement and they say, oh, I feel comfortable here. I feel safe and secure here. And that can be very liberating. You know, that creates such freedom for people. Thank you for doing that.
- Yeah, thanks for, thanks for saying that. You know, we have youth who come in and they're like 16, 17 years old and they say, I've never met another gay person. I've never met another trans person. This is the first time that I've gotten to be in a group of people who understand what I'm talking about and they're not online, they're here with me in Birmingham. I'm really excited for us to be able to get back to our in-person program safely. But, even then the online space, it is really remarkable how much it has mattered for our youth to be able to check in in the morning and just see how everyone's doing, or share their successes. It's been really, really cool.
- That's great, thank you. Okay, let me see here. All right. Okay, next question. One cool thing about the deaf community is called deaf gain. And that is when a deaf person maybe sees something that other people may miss. For example, deaf people can sign under water, okay. Hearing people cannot speak under water, right. So that's, that's one simple example of deaf gain. So, what are some cool features of the LGBTQ plus community might have that other people might miss out on, they might not recognize? What are some gains that the LGBTQ community might benefit from?
- I love this question. This is my favorite thing to get our youth excited about. I'm actually wearing, I don't know if you can see it. I'm wearing a t-shirt that says, Hope is Gay Culture right now, which one of our youth wrote that on a mural that we have hanging in our building. It was a mural that all of our youth got to work on together. And I freaked out at that. I was like, how, that's so simple and so elegant and so beautiful. I Googled it to see if anybody had ever used it before and nobody had ever done it, so we put it on a t-shirt because hope in our community, as a pillar of our community is so essential to who we are as LGBTQ people. I mean, you think about Harvey Milk, saying you gotta give 'em hope. There are so many times where that hope and promise for the future has been just a pillar of our community. And so, our resilience I think is something that I love to point out to our young people. You know, our community has been through so much and we strive to be more visible and better every day and we're still here. I love to share the fact that it may not feel to a lotta people like Alabama has an LGBTQ history, but we absolutely do. It's just that people haven't always listened or promoted our LGBTQ history. It's not like it's been taught to us in school. But that doesn't mean that it wasn't there. So, our resilience is one thing. I actually, I joke with our youth sometimes, we have a running joke about having a list of things that cisgender, straight people, would never, and it's like that feeling of walking into a queer space for the first time. That feeling is so beautiful and euphoric, a space that centers you and cares for you, whether that's like a bar or an LGBTQ youth center like ours. Straight cis people will never on that one, they will never. I think in the south our queer story telling is incredible. I think the way that we build chosen family is a really incredible lesson for all people. The way that we're able to create boundaries for people who don't accept us, though it's really hard is also a good lesson for people in terms of protecting their peace and protecting their own space. Yeah, I could go on forever, but I'm not gonna do that to us. So, there's a lot, there's a lot that I think a person can gain from being in this community.
- You made me think, one of the most, you made me remember a quote about hope. It's really the foundation. And I saw your shirt and I said, absolutely, yes, that is just perfect. Very often you know, we talk about ideas, we talk about the future, we talk about making a better world, but you know, how do we build something. And we realize that we can, we can move forward. But, the comment was, hope is a foundation, and that's exactly how I feel with our organization and I'm sure that's, I'm sure you feel the same way, the MCAC. You know, you see the successes and you give these people you know, and LGBTQ, and Alabama actually has an LGBTQ space. And just you know, we have to think about how we're giving that support and there are things that people are seeing. Wow, we really are creating avenues and we're creating safe spaces. And, and we're also realizing that as we're giving we're receiving as well. And so, you saying that just made me think of wow, you know, there's this amazing thing that the LGBTQ community has that I think they're really kind of in common with what the deaf community has. And also, we have just so much more to do as well in the future. Okay, next question. I wanted to talk a little bit about intersectionality and so, suppose you've got Kimberly, Kimberly Williams Crenshaw, this person, all right, I think I created a word back in 1989, intersectionality, so you know 31 years ago, and intersectionality is basically overlap, the total of a person's identity. You know, you can't just select one aspect of yourself. There are many, many different aspects that make up who you are as a person today. So, let's talk a little bit about marginalization, oppression, discrimination, bias, and how do we remain vigilant and make sure that we are not marginalizing other communities? You know, we talk about having a safe space and we talk about having full inclusion for everybody, for the entire community. So, how do we do that?
- I love that huge question. It's like, how do we fix everything? It's an important question to ask though, right. One of the questions that we like asking our young people is, what does it look like in a community where everyone's needs are met? And that's such a huge question. I should credit, oh gosh, now I can't remember who did it. It was the Birmingham Youth Initiative, I think, that did a workshop where they first posed that question, and I heard it and loved it and it's a really interesting tool to ask people, what does it look like in a community when everyone's needs are met because you just start to dream and you start to see the world as it should be. And so, in terms of what people can do, first, just the acknowledgement of your own power and privilege, which I think I've been, I've been really excited to see how there's been a mainstream shift towards these conversations lately and communities that are more marginalized are really, we're standing up in our power and we're asking people to be accountable and we're asking people to do the work and to make space and really commit to undoing a lot of oppression. I think the recognition of your own power and privilege and bias, and then the commitment to its undoing as a lifelong process. So, I am a black queer woman in Alabama. I know I check, I check a lotta boxes on the oppression list, right, but I still have power and privilege and can absolutely learn and be a better ally and advocate and accomplice really, to other communities. So, I know I could be a better advocate to deaf and hard of hearing folks for sure and I'd like to be. So, I'm really again, just really excited that we're connected now and you know, it's an ongoing, lifelong need to do that work.
- Absolutely, yes. I was just thinking that some people miss you know, you talk about the list. I'm doing this specific thing. I'm listening, I'm watching things on TV and I've done my part now. And they think, well, I've cured this specific ism, but they haven't. I think there are a lot of internal biases that are just simply embedded in us and we have to think, we have to realize that we think something wrong, we have to catch that. We have to train ourselves to make sure that we don't, as you said, it's a lifelong process and I totally agree. The work never ends. Because I think that's what's the best part of that because we're always looking for things, 'cause we want, our goal is complete inclusion for every human being. And you know, again, I think we can say this great. It involves education. You have to have that motivation, I want to learn, I want to listen, I want to respect people. You know, I want to recognize, how do I oppress, how am I privileged? And you know we need to unpack all of our privilege and seek out you know, complete, a completely equitable world. And I was thinking about you know, Crenshaw, you know, who wrote about intersectionality. It was there 31 years ago, you know. So, that concept is older than I am and we're still talking about that. We were talking about it then and you know, we're starting to see you know, more discussion. We're seeing that word more and more. We talk about it now, today, and it's really making headway in the world. And you know, I think that she was someone who was really ahead of her time, and what a great idea that was and it felt to me that conversations are more important than ever. And continuing to consider these issues and talking about them are more important than ever. We've gotta keep reading. Read what people think. Read what people are doing. You know, keep growing and keep changing. You know, in the state of Alabama, not only in the state of Alabama, but nationally, and it's a message I completely agree with and that I intend to continue to discuss and to think about and have conversations on. Of course, that's the reason why we're here today talking, trying to get that word out more and more, you know. How can I make a difference as a person, you know? Honestly, that makes me feel good. You know, we're changing our own world and that makes me feel better. Okay, let me see here. Okay, one of our organizations hashtag is create space, so #createspace. So, you have your own space as well. So, how can we create space for equity? Let's talk about that.
- I love that hashtag. It's perfect. I think an acknowledgement that it is on us to, to take action to create that space and really shift things. I know for, for us like for LGBTQ folks one of the other things that I really love about our community is that we love language and we will come up with new words all of the time to reflect experiences that we wanna connect with other people over. Sometimes it feels like people outside the community are really frustrated by that. They're like, oh, what do all these words mean? What do all these labels mean, as if it's just a burden for us that we're finding beautiful, true language to express ourselves and connect to one another. And that's not a burden. That's us creating that space to see one another and express something that's true. And so, giving up that frustration with something that you don't understand, that creates space for equity. Believing people when they tell you who they are, giving people their rights around access is creating space. It's also just kind of important to admit when you don't know something. A lot of people don't like doing that. A lot of white people in particular, don't like admitting that they don't know something, to name that. So, it's, it's really to me okay to say that and then, and then ask a person how they wanna be respected. I think you know, when you talk about intersectionality, to me the thing that's interesting is that I feel like you know, intersectionality doesn't need to be explained to like a black trans woman. It doesn't need to be explained what is stacked against her. Yet, for someone who is a cisgender, white man who might be wealthy, it's kind of like a mind blowing concept, right. And so, I think having those conversations like you talked about, Trey, like having space to have these conversations and really kind of stay on people's necks with this conversation and make it a consistent part of everything that we do is really, really important. So, that's why I like the hashtag, that it's about action, right. We say all the time in our community, you know, ally is a verb. That's one of our little catch phrases, right. Like it's not that you can just slap the label on yourself and say, great, I did it, great, I'm culturally competent. Like you said earlier, I've checked the box. No, it's an action thing that you need to take action on for the rest of your life. You don't get an out.
- Yeah, I think you know, I'm still thinking about what you said about hope. You know, it's a foundational concept and honestly, that blew my mind. We're creating action for ourselves and of course, you know, you are. But also, to be honest, you know, in my community I'm thinking about access in my community. You know, what we do now creates more access for the next group of people that come along and more acceptance and more open mindedness and more inclusion and then, more access to the processes that there are. It just gets better and better. And so, we have to think about how can we insure success for the next people that come along? You know, what is the world gonna be like? What can we do to make the world equitable for everybody? You know, what actions can we take? We need to talk about it and we need to break barriers down. So, I think that what you explained about hope being a foundation is just, honestly, I think that's my next motto. And then, you talk about ally, allyship is a continuing process. It's an ongoing process, just continuous action and you know, how do we view ourselves? How can I become a better person? How can I you know, how can I create access for everyone? How can I create safe spaces for everyone? Wow. I'm just thinking about creating space, wow, yeah, great.
- I mean, back at you with everything that Adjacent Space is doing and really showing up in these places and wanting to have these conversations. I think it's so hugely important and I love, again, just letting our youth know that this is happening, that I was telling them in our online program earlier today, I was like, tune in for this conversation. Here's this organization that's doing this for this community and I think it's really vital for them to see, especially again, in Alabama there are people who are really, really invested in social justice and in creating spaces. I saw a quote from one of our colleagues earlier, Shontae Wolf, who does climate justice and they were talking about how you know, the idea of youth being the future, like, we're like oh, youth are the future, youth are the future. We can reject that and say that youth are the present, right. So, for our young people right now it's not that we should be telling them you know, to have patience and wait on these things that they deserve. It's like, you deserve this right now. You should have access to this right now. You should have access to it in Alabama where you are. You deserve to be able to be where you are the age you are and thrive and have access, so. Yeah, I love the idea of, of dreaming of what it looks like when everybody gets what they need.
- Thank you, thank you, Lauren again. Thank you so much.
- Thanks, Trey. My hand wasn't in the frame, there we go.
- Lauren and Trey, thank you both for a very informative session. We learned a lot and it was nice learning about the LGBTQ community and also learning about the parallels between the LGBTQ community and the deaf community. So, thank you both for your time, your knowledge, and your perspectives. So, we may have time for one or two questions, so if you have a question please feel free to use the chat box. While we do that, Trey, if you don't mind sharing just a few signs for us. We would like for you to show us the signs for LGBTQ.
- Again, the cool thing about ASL is that some signs are evolving, so I could sign something incorrectly. If you notice that please let me know. I sign based on what we know now and please call me out if I do sign something incorrectly. Okay, so LGBTQ, honestly, it's best to just spell it out L-G-B-T-Q plus.
- The sign for gay.
- Finger spell gay. Again, a person may identify with this sign or just finger spell gay. I typically finger spell gay.
- And trans gender.
- And again, it depends on the individual. Some people may just prefer to sign trans gender this way. It does tend to be an individual preference. Finger spell it or this sign that I showed you.
- Thank you very much.
- One more thing. Some people like to spell out cisgender as two separate words. Cisgender put together. There's gender and there's cisgender, you know. I identify as a cisgendered man. So, I would include, I would spell it all the way out. Okay, especially for context rather than separate it between two words. Yeah.
- Thank you. And we have one question. I volunteer at an LGBTQ summer camp and this year we've been doing online programs. What are some ways, other than adding captions, that we can make our program more visible and accessible to our deaf and hard of hearing youth?
- Ask the individual what form of communication is their preferred form. For example, I prefer ASL, but there may be somebody who uses queued speech, or they may use simultaneous communication, signing and speaking, may prefer just seeing the captioning there. I would say respect the individual and ask what their preferences are if you want to meet their specific needs, accommodate them, what they need.
- Great, thank you. Again, Lauren, Trey, thank you both for your time. Thank you to our interpreters for your time and your skills and thank you to our participants for joining us. If you are an organization that is watching this and are interested in partnering with Adjacent Space or if you are thinking of an organization that you would like to see partner with Adjacent Space, please let us know. You can contact us by email or on one of the social media sites. Thank you all for joining us and have a great evening.
- Thank you again, Lauren.