The work that lies ahead
I was a waitress this summer. I mastered the art of carrying Cosmopolitians and pints of draft beer filled to the brim, while smiling at the cranky old man at table 22 who made me want to cry in frustration, and honestly I don’t want to see another lobster roll or platter of fried calamari ever again.
For some reason, when you are a “server,” your customers like to hear about your life. Particularly the older folk. Where are you in college? What do you study? What do you want to do with your future?
Well, I go to Colby, I’m a gender studies major, and I want to positively change power structures that suffocate the marginalized. They would smile and ask, “How do you plan on doing that, my dear?” Hmmm…. That’s a more difficult question. I’d explain my job as the Gender and Sexual Diversity Student Resource Officer and articulate that it is what I want to do beyond college, but on a smaller scale. Every time I explained this I became more excited for the year to come, while at the same time realizing just how much there is for us to do at Colby.
Now, I don’t share this anecdotal fluff merely because I couldn’t come up with a better hook. I share it because as I became even more excited than is maybe humanly possible, something funny and usual happened: I wasn’t nervous or particularly scared of the mountain in front of me. I’m confident in the future because of the faith and love I have in Colby, in us, to continue what we started last spring. That’s my point: there is no reason to be nervous and scared. The truth is, we have all the brain and heart we need—we have a dynamic community. It is simply a matter of re-arranging and developing it so that we may become more vibrant. Call me silly, but I think that’s fantastically empowering.
What did we start? A movement, dialogue and coalition to bring about the gender and sexual diversity equality we don’t simply want, but need to survive as an honest and growing community. Journalist Gail Sheehy once said, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living.” Let us continue to change, grow and live—to the fullest. We must make this place—our home—comfortable and safe for all in the ways it should be so that our hearts and minds can be uncomfortable in the ways that they should be. I don’t think we have found that difficult balance quite yet.
I did a lot of thinking this summer. I did a lot of dreaming, planning, working and hoping, and I’m thrilled to share it with you all in the upcoming weeks. This mumbo jumbo of an op-ed isn’t meant to preach, but to encourage. How are you going to engage with gender and sexual diversity this fall? The question is no longer: what do you want to change? It is: how are you going to change it? Colby, we refuse to be passive. We want a Gender and Sexual Diversity resource center. How are we going to fight the sexism and homophobia that so unfortunately asserts itself? We become active when we talk, connect, and do.
There is a great deal of unknown ahead, but that’s exciting. Where will we be in a year? What will the campus climate be? In all of the unknown however, I know this: I am more empowered, inspired, angry, proud, feisty, determined, ready and eager then ever before. Last spring we took some definitive steps, but this fall they will be bigger. We will be braver and louder with our voices and hearts and listen more deeply to those around us. It would be easier to just leave the existing inequalities as they are, but guess what? Not only would that be wrong, but that’d be boring. Boredom doesn’t fly in my world. Get out of the box and get to work.
As always, I’m here to talk and help in any way I can with anything relating to gender and sexual diversity, and the inherent intersectionality that abounds. E-mail me at email@example.com or stroll on by the Pugh Center…I’ll likely be working away in the Feminist Alliance club room. Please, come visit! I promise I don’t bite.