Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Hard Day's Night

I am overwhelmed to say the least. So here we go... By far the moments I have felt most connected with this city have been talking to the many wonderful individuals we have met with thus far. The most important aspect I have taken away from these conversations have been around intersectionality. I couldn't help but feel walking through the Castro that it was apparently a very white, gay male oriented area. This was discouraging to say the least. I am not claiming that it isn't an important area that continues to be a central force of queer rights but the feeling was that of slight exclusion of those that don't fit the prescribed identity. Another issue I've been struggling with is that although the focus is on queer issues, I can't help but feel more affected by the large homeless population here. I kept searching for ways in which these two themes crossed paths.

This feeling was eased slightly today when we went to talk with the San Francisco Women Against Rape at the Women's Center in the Mission. At one point she said that in order to end rape we have to end all forms of discrimination and oppression -- racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. This is what I've been waiting for. As someone who identifies as a feminist and is personally, academically, and professionally working for women's rights I am constantly aware of how identities intersect. It was brought to my attention once again that many queer youth who are kicked out of their homes or flee from abuse come to San Francisco looking for acceptance and community, and often end up as drug users and/or homeless. We have met so many people who are working towards spreading awareness and doing all they can to help people in need, in this case in relation to the queer community.

The Women's Center brought that aspect of service to a larger population. I really connected with the work they do since I am an intern at the Minnesota Women's Building and am passionate about many of the same issues they deal with. What I found really inspiring is that since they are located in an area that predominately serves people of color, they make sure the majority of their employees and volunteers are also people of color. She mentioned that working in a rape crisis center, its important that the clients that come in see someone that they can relate to and that has had similar life experiences. Aside from this, they provide a lot of services for families and in particular low-income families.

It's easy to get swept up in one issue and a one-sided identity but we all have to realize that not everyone has the same experiences and not every solution will work for everyone in need. Our identities all intersect with one another to form unique experiences, viewpoints, and lifestyles. It's frustrating at times, and easy to overlook but I feel fortunate to have met some amazing people that have brought all of these identities together and have acknowledge that they overlap and intersect.


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