Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transgender Awareness Day

Attached is a picture of one of Out@UArts’ campaign for the visibility on campus. We did tabling in Terra for Trans Awareness/Remembrance day. By giving away Hershey kisses at the table we were able to start multiple dialogue of engaging conversation of people that had no idea what being trans meant. Even before the group, I did not know what trans meant. I did not know that 50% of trans people feel unwelcome and unsafe in their schools, work, and even homes. The lack of awareness brings violence, prejudice, and fear. Because of this we spread the word on the University of the Arts campus and had a very successful day of awareness and inclusion.

An Unlikely Response

A response to my original thesis paper for Camille’s class, which I posted to facebook, it started a big dialogue with friend an collegeue alike about the community. The world wide web is truly that and a friend who helped raise me when I was four volunteering in the Muncie, Indiana Children’s Museum posted this response:

I get kind of an interesting perspective on this too as I tend to fall between the standard generations mentioned here I think. In general I tend to live a middle of the line life. While I am basically out as being Bi to most people and have been since late in high school, I am still "closeted" to most of my family. This situation definitely has presented challenges. I am at least fortunate that my husband (who I have been with since HS) is very understanding and willing to allow me the freedom to pursue both sides of my desires. In the same vein though I do NOT do casual flings and never have. I have lived at home till nearly the time of my marriage at 28 years of age and having parents considerably older than me I was definitely given few freedoms in many ways and I was never the party type. The closest to a dating site that I ever did was; what was more common when I was in college, a chat room. That only ever brought about a single slightly awkward meetup at a campus coffee house. Mostly any other girls I have had any involvement with have either been instances of a chance finding of each other in our normal lives or as a friend of a friend introduction. It is actually kind of funny that now with social media (which was not big till after my college days) I am learning that if society had been more open in my youth that perhaps I might have had a better chance as some former classmates have come out to at least some extent and indicated that back then there might have been an interest.

So while I am young enough to have a very string grasp of technology I am also old enough that the social aspects used today were not in place in my prime "dating years". I will at least say that my son will be able to benefit fortunately from a parent that is very open about things yet still strict where I need to be. He will grow up knowing no matter what his sexual identity or those of his friends I will understand. I will be happy if I can be a mature and understanding ear and voice where one is needed for any coming after me.

I was shocked by her braveness to post this so publically but was also reminded of how you really do not know a person and their personal struggle with acceptance of themselves or into society. This year has been such an unbelievable experience that will shape the way I live my life and I had Julie Woodward to thank for such an amazing growing process. 

William Way

I spent my first year of AmeriCorp volunteering at the William Way LGBT Center. I really did not know what I was getting myself into. My schedule was already jammed packed and 9-5 are their typical hours, just like any normal organization. For the first few months, I struggled to complete the takes like making a birthday card and various other backburner projects that seemed lackluster to me. It didn’t have that power I was looking for. I don’t see until now that every role is necessary for a successful organization to run. It can’t just be the poster boy or the man calling the shots. After a few months, I started working with Paul, one of  the best people I have ever met who does I mean honestly a million things. I do not know where to begin with naming the lives he has changed but know that is a million. So, I began working with him to plan events and get raffle baskets, working with area businesses to collect things for non-profits.

We planned concerts, doggy adoptions, and even fundraising events with the mayor and a house representative was there. I encountered a lot of experience both beneficial and also extremely challenging for me to overcome. A community center requires a community of people and in any community there is a mix of everyone under the rainbow. (Pun Intended)

During this time I also began FIT meetings which is where after orientation a staff member, or me, meets with potential volunteers one-on-one to discuss opportunities and where they would best fit in. It was a very rewarding time where I met so many wonderful people the work daily to make the Philadelphia community safer, happier and a community. 

TIME Article

Until senior year of college, I never really thought about feminism. I always knew how fortunate I was, but I never really had the opportunity to see my life or history through another person’s eyes. Cue Camille Paglia. A teacher at UArts, Camille writes for TIME, the Daily Telegraph, and is featured on many news sites and programs. I took her Gender Images in the Media, which is basically a class on feminism. It inspired so much of my art and my life this year. For the first time, I was able to relate and have intelligent conversation that led to many successful partnerships and collaborations. For our term paper we had to write a 2-sentence proposal about what we wanted to write about. Now, it was supposed to be a 5-7 page research paper about some gender role in society. For some reason, senioritis, I decided that this was dull to me. As an Aquarius, I go with the flow and kind of do what I want (but at least I do it whole heartedly).

I began to think of social barriers and expectations that affect me. Things arose like, “What does a person mean when they double take on the street.” I thought about going up to people at bars and interviewing them. I wanted to find the dingiest of dive bars to the elite dining halls finding out TRUE REAL conversation about what is happening in gay society. I wanted to make it about gays because that is who I most relate to and who I feel I have to most power to influence and grow alongside of. My proposal ended up being “If we do not give collegiate aged youth 18-21 year olds, a place to exchange ideas and form meaningful relationships, they have to resort to hook ups apps in order to form a community and meet friends, thus perpetuating the gay stereotype.” What started as a 5-7 page research paper kind of turned into my thesis statement for life of which I could write a book. I brainstormed with a lot of new friends, talked to a lot of people about their thoughts and input, and had very interesting dialogue about current gay culture.

Camille liked my thesis idea that she took it but broadened it into an article the she wrote in TIME about lowering the drinking age. I thought it was a very interesting point of view on the issue and she offered a solution. As a 22 year old, I am still asking all the questions. I know the problem, I know the very root of the problem, but I do not know the answer yet. I wrote my paper, having A LOT to say and solving problems along the way. I asked for her feedback after a very challenging writing process and editing week and received a response highly in my favor. She passed along my paper to her editor at TIME and now I am currently writing an article about gay culture on college campuses and my critiques. HOW EXCITING RIGHT!? The thought of being an LGBT activist all of a sudden got very real.


My freshman year, I sat in my script analysis class and read Angels in America. Little did I know that it was a work of LGBT advancement. Written by Tony Kushner, this work propelled me to get outside the comfort of Broad Street. I spent my whole freshman year in the UArts bubble, not exploring the city, not really meeting anyone but the people I was in class with. After reading this play, I knew that I needed to take action. I googled the word volunteering in Philly and after digging through some stuff I came across ActionAIDS. Part of ActionAIDS has a buddy program. With this, they provide emotional support for someone dealing with HIV/AIDS. So, after a very thorough training, I became a buddy in the program and was assigned my first client. I really did not know what I was getting myself into. I was 18/19 years old at the time and just wanted to help in any way I could. I got the most miraculous man; super cool, super chill. He gave me hope to preserver and continue on seeing the beauty of life. I would visit him regularly at home where we would either watch a movie, hang with his cats, sometimes meet for lunch at Reading Terminal market, whatever the encounter desired. We would spend hours on the phone talking to each other about what was going on in his life. It was such a rewarding experience to not only work with him as a client, but to gain a friend. After three years of really getting to know a person, I got to see him grow both emotionally and physically and continue living with what once was a death sentence. The team at ActionAIDS gave me a community, a somewhat family, and a place where I could directly help out those in need. They are so supportive with their amazing services that offer people with HIV/AIDS and I would not have changed it for the world.