Sunday, May 31, 2009

Advocacy Matters!

This story is special.

On May 5, SC Director Jackie Simpson was honored with the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and University Human Resources. From among ninety nominees, Jackie was chosen for her dedicated work around issues of Non-Discrimination Policy and Education at the University.

I have had the privilege to work with Jackie on various projects while serving as a member of the Center’s Student Advisory Board. In her capacity as the co-chair of this initiative, she guided our ideas and worked with us to develop them into strategies for effective action. She provided us with opportunities to discuss our concerns with several invited members of the academia and continued to inform each of our meetings with her experience in areas of advocacy and education.

All those who have worked with Jackie in different capacities, will agree that she is truly deserving of this and many such awards. Her quiet confidence, dedication and humility are her winning strengths and she has been absolutely superb in her role as a leader, mentor and team-worker.

Congratulations, Jackie! and thanks for being there always. I am so proud of you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Acts of Translation

Visibility is not about presence alone. It is also about the presence of absence where absence is not what is not visible but what is not given thought. If sexuality is an invisible trait, making it visible implies translating what is not widely understood. It demands outreach. It requires constant acts of translation of traits that sexual minorities embody but may not make/be evident.

This was my argument at the A-Team Annual Meeting last week. The board members, including myself, had gathered to reflect on our work of this past year and evaluate our current strengths and limitations. Our greatest contribution was the proposal for Gender-Neutral Housing and a new forum entitled International + LGBT formed in collaboration with the International Center to address issues specific to International LGBT identified/questioning scholars and individuals at the University. Both these were initiatives of students. Both these marked the start of a series of conversations to follow. And finally, both these were markers of the outreach potential of our team.

But this is not where we concluded. Continuing on the idea of translation, we felt that our efforts of this past year will need to assume a descriptive framework for new board members to begin work from. We argued that description rather than prescription is what will both sustain this body and facilitate newer conversations on thoughtful topics needing action. This was to remind us that A-team stood for Action Team – action informed by thought, conversation, debate and research.

Thank you Jackie for being such brilliant support throughout. You are terrific!

About This Blog

This blog is built around what I refer to as the socio-sexual debate, meaning the simultaneously coexisting conditions of human society and human sexuality in a constant state of inner conflict and pressing debate. To read more, click here.

Opinion Matters

"There is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels" (Mika* in an interview with Shana Naomi Krochmal, OUT, 2008-01-28).

*Mika is a London-based singer-songwriter.

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