Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Two Communities Collide

I live in 2 primary communities in my life:  the Lactation Community and the LGBTQ Community.  For me these two communities overlap quite a bit as I am a VERY OUT Lesbian IBCLC.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a wife who I love and adore with all my heart and soul.  I see no reason to hide it and I hope that it gives others in the LGBTQ community who happen to also be in the Lactation Community the ability to be out as well – but not all are for their own personal and valid reasons. 

But what happens when these two communities collide?  Well, it HAS happened to me a few times as I have written about in this blog before.  Frankly, I can handle it.  Don’t like that I am Lesbian?  Move along and take your prejudice with you thank you very much.  But what about others?  Others in the lactation community who are NOT out and collide with another in the lactation community who is LGBTQ-Phobic?  What do they do?

I was at a well-known conference this past week for lactation consultants.  Honestly it was great!  Lots of wonderful people, lots of hugs and kisses (good thing my wife is NOT the jealous type!) and lots of community.  I personally had no issues with anyone who had their own personal issues with my LGBTQ community…but another wonderful woman did…

Without going into all the details because they are not mine to share I will say this:  Someone in the Lactation Community made an assumption about another person (I will call her Mary).  This person assumed that ‘Mary’ had the same (negative) opinion of the LGBTQ community and made a very transphobic comment to her.  ‘Mary’ is not OUT to the lactation community (yet?).  This hateful, deeply offensive and hurtful comment shocked ‘Mary’ – she was deeply upset and frankly the rest of the conference was marred for her.  And when the other 4 of us in the LGBTQ community (who are also in the Lactation Community) discovered what happened – it marred the conference for us in many ways as well. This is unacceptable.

Out of nearly 200 attendees only 5 of us were also members of the LGBTQ community.  5.  Let that sink in.  Talk about being a minority.  And while it is a strong possibility that the majority of the other 195 attendees are LGBTQ supporters, it is clear that at least one was not.  And that one deeply offended US.  And she had NO CLUE that she had done so by making a (very wrong) assumption.

So – what do we do as a community?  As a member of the LGBTQ community I am speaking up here on my blog and to anyone who is willing to listen and learn:  Check your assumptions AT THE DOOR.  Check your privilege AT THE DOOR.  Do NOT assume that another person you talk to feels the same way you do – about ANYTHING.  And most importantly do not assume they are NOT members of the LGBTQ community.  You just never know where we might show up. And there is no way to know 100% if the person you are speaking to is a member of the LGBTQ community…or not. 

As a member of the Lactation Community – I say the same damn thing.  Check yourself and your assumptions and your privilege.  As professionals we are supposed to present ourselves as such – and when one of us makes an LGBTQ-phobic comment it makes the rest of us look bad.  While I am hopeful that the person who deeply offended ‘Mary’ and our LGBTQ community did not intend to do so on purpose, I can't help but be angry that neither did she ‘check herself’ before she made an inappropriate comment.

Let me make this clear:  We are Here.  We are Queer.  We are Lesbian.  We are Transgender.  We are Gay.  We are Bisexual.  We are IN the Lactation Community and WE are Here to STAY.  So – if you cannot find it in your heart to accept others and not judge them for being different than you, at least have the common courtesy to keep your discriminatory and assumptive opinions to yourself. And if you are an Ally – and you support the LGBTQ community please – make it known somehow…stand up for us when you can.  WE in the LGBTQ community appreciate it. 

Thank you.