I thought training was over. Roll Call already happened, residents have already moved in and classes were going to start soon. I was wrong (per usual). During one of our staff meetings we found out that we had a handful of “optional” additional training sessions that we needed to attend. The optional part was which one we picked to go to. I chose to go to the Allies training because I remember seeing the Allies plaque on some doors and wondering what it meant.
Fun fact, I thought that I was lost/ in the wrong place for training when actually I was 30 minutes early and there was no one there yet. I may or may not have called my RD and woken her up. And I may or may not have been told to check the Guidebook app that we had been using all along throughout training. And I may or may not have found the answer to why I was alone in a building and woken my RD up for nothing.
Anyway, Allies training is for members and supports of the LGBTQIA community. And I am really thankful for the opportunity that I had to participate in this training. As a cis-gender heterosexual female, there isn’t a lot of negative feedback on my choices of who I am attracted too or not. In fact, based purely on my sexual preferences, I don’t receive any discrimination at all. I see people of my same sexual orientation all over the media and in books, it is social acceptable and deigned the superior and correct way of life. Now if you add in other factors such as my race or my gender then yes, I have faced discrimination and oppression in many ways, but if all those things were stripped away, and it was only me and who I was attracted to, then my life has been pretty fine so far.
Sadly, this is not the case for many people around the world, and during Allies training, I was able to learn a lot about their struggles and what I can do as an RA and as a decent human being to support those who belong to the LGBTQIA community. I enjoyed this training because I learned about things that I had never really thought about or considered problems for people who were part of the community. There were many activities that caused me to think and put me outside of my comfort zone.
One of the activities that we did really hit home for me and I was not ready in any shape or form for the emotional beating that I was about to endure. At the being of the training, we each selected a different colored star and on the points of the star we wrote things such as our closet friend, our dream job, our hopes for the future, someone who means a lot to us and one more thing that I can’t remember. After we had filled out our stars, one of the presenters read a Coming Out story and depending on your colored star, you would follow the given directions such as to do nothing, fold back a point or tear a point off and drop it on the ground. Some stars had it better than others, for example the blue stars had a great Coming Out experience where they were accepted by their friends and families, others not so much.
As we went through the activity, I kept losing points on my star. First my friends didn’t accept me, then my co-workers, and then my family and so forth until I was left with nothing but my name. The action of physically tearing my friend’s name off my star or literally watching my dreams for the future fall to the ground was soul crushing. For one of my points I had written that I wanted to love and be loved unconditionally, and to see that be torn away from me hurt.
I am a very sensitive person and I feel emotions deeply. In some ways that’s a great thing, it helps me empathize with others and allows me to put my feet in people’s shoes. When I was doing this activity, not only did I think of people in my life who have come out, but also what it would be like for me to come out as well. I saw my future get bleaker and bleaker and I didn’t have to wonder how it must’ve feel because I was already feeling the desperation.
By the end of the activity I was shedding some tears, and it was basically Niagara Falls on my face. We went around the circle talking about how we felt and discussing how wrong it was that some people’s coming out stories were received well, while others struggled for acceptance.
When it was my turn to speak, I prefaced everything by saying that I was in fact a crier and to bear with me. I didn’t get through to everything that I wanted to say because of the emotions that I was feeling, but I feel that everyone in the room could tune in on what I was trying to express
As we progressed through the training, I learned a lot about the LGBTQIA community and the resources that they had available to them through the school and what a resource I could be to them. All in all it was a great experience. I know that things like LGBTQIA rights are a hot topic, especially living in a conservative state such as Texas. I also know that everyone is entitled to their own views and beliefs. All I can say is that no one is any less human than the next person, and we should treat each other all as equals. Just because someone is different than us doesn’t mean that the way they live their life is wrong.