Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Hi all! It’s Alexis again, and when I wrote my first blogpost for Dunamis, I knew that for the next one that I would be writing, I wanted to do an update on my progress in my work here. However, over the past week, I spent some time with my family in the Deep South, and I wanted to share how I felt this visit had affected me personally, and creatively. For one, I have not seen my family in about 7 years, (meaning the last time I saw them was when I was about 12 years old) so my memories of them were entirely different. I was a kid, and so a lot of those memories I had were filled with playing and eating good food (as one does in the south) and that was it. I didn’t have to think about anything else. I remember once though, after the release of the Same Love music video, my cousins and I watched it and one of them described the wedding between the two men as disgusting. Now at the time, we were all kids, but even then I felt like what my cousin said was kind of wrong. I didn’t know how, but it just didn’t sit right with me. As I got older, and I started involving myself in social justice, and putting myself in spaces where I am surrounded by multiple diverse groups, I realize why what my cousin said was wrong. I unlearned those prejudices from my youth that society tried to force onto me. So when I had the opportunity to go see them in the south again, I was excited, because I made the mistake of assuming that they unlearned the same behaviors and language. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t!) Cue me in the Deep South for a week, holding my tongue for the sake of preventing an argument. I was so shocked and disappointed to hear such bigotry out of the mouths of people I love. It was even more disappointing when some of the topics they targeted their hate towards, were topics that I could relate to. It was emotionally and spiritually draining. From this experience though, I learned two things. One, is how privileged I am to have grown up in a space that encouraged self-expression. A lot of the conversations my family had were full of internalized misogyny, and I realized how lucky I was to have been raised in a space where I got to learn that I didn’t have to succumb to societal pressures and that I have the power to challenge them. The other thing I learned, is that I need to use my privilege to go into these spaces and educate. My family is pretty stuck in their ways now, so it may be harder to change their minds, however, because of the skills I have been picking up at Dunamis, I can discover a need for something in a community, and create a space that can work to solve it. I realized that a lot of the conversations revolved around homophobia and denying mental illness. I believe my family’s hometown can benefit from a GSA club or another organized space for LGBTQ+ people to meet each other and share their experiences. Or even a space for their to be education on LGBTQ+ history and/or mental health. And though this might not change everyone’s minds, it provides a space for the new generation to unlearn the bigotry that was being handed down to them. It will be a lot of work, but hopefully one day, I will be able to do it. I’m grateful for my time here at Dunamis. It is a privilege that I got to work at this job and learn how to instill change at an institutional level, and I hope to share that skill with the world when the time is right.