First of all: Why do you want to be represented as part of this project?
Honestly, it’s because I know Jenn; she asked me to do it, and it sounds like something I could be able to contribute to. This is an opportunity; no reason I shouldn’t act on it.
Any reason in particular why you felt personally…
...why I want to participate?
With the recent political climate; I agreed with Jenn’s reason for starting [We Are You]
I don’t know how many instances from my personal life, what good stories that I could share, but I still felt like I wanted to help.
What about the project description resonated with you?
We’re trying to advocate for anyone who feels marginalized, due to sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, or ability or gender identity, any reason. And we want to do that through a social media campaign to connect people with other people with whom they’ve not interacted before. Through the live events, where people can have one-on-one connections with people from different backgrounds.
I would say that I belong to a few marginalized groups; I’m pansexual, and actively polyamorous, so I’ve got multiple romantic partners. I guess in my everyday life I don’t really feel marginalized, due to the “bubble” nature of Bloomington; it’s a very liberal place. I think if I lived in a small town, a much more rural part of Indiana that wouldn’t be the case.
How do you self-identify?
I am cisgendered, one of my partners is a trans woman, and I feel like I’m fairly well-informed on those topics. Atheist.
How would you like to be seen by society?
I feel fairly normal; especially with my social groups, compared to a lot of my friends, I’m more...I’m very heteronormative, more straight-laced, I suppose, but that’s just in my social circle. I know that in other social circles, I’m definitely the opposite.
I guess I view myself as an interesting person, but I think most people view themselves as normal.
How do you think you are seen?
I think that depends on who I’m interacting with. Also my setting, who I’m presenting myself too. At work, I’m sure I’m seen as just another bartender, I’m not going to divulge that much information. I get more questions like...I shave my head frequently. I get a lot of comments of “oh, did you lose a bet?” No; I choose to style my hair this way. Some people think that’s really odd.
If I’m among some more radically queer folks in the community, I’m fairly normative. I’m cisgendered, dating two men...sometimes I feel like I might not be “queer enough” for some of those groups, just because I’m a cis woman dating a cis man, and I’ve got all these normative life expectations. You know what? I think marriage sounds nice, I think having children sounds nice, the whole “white picket fence”, 2.5 kids...sounds nice enough to me.
Some folks are radical, and reject very normative ideas, but a lot of people are very much about every lifestyle is valid.
Have your actions or words ever been misinterpreted by people from different backgrounds?
And, also, from people of your own background…
From my family, yes; sometimes, I’ll maybe tell my sister or my mom something, and they take it the wrong way. From the small tidbit I’ve given them, they assume things, like about my sexual health. There’s definitely been some slut-shaming from my sister’s point of view; she’s younger, and lives in the South.
She...can be a prick, sometimes. A very judgmental prick. She loves me, but she thinks I’m very odd; very much the black sheep of the family.
I’ve gotten judgment from people also, as two partners are significantly older than me; I’m 24, two of my partners are 36.
Age becomes less of a thing the older you get, but when you’re young it’s still presumed that if you’re dating someone much older than yourself, it can be viewed as a harmful thing. Which I think is definitely true if you are of a young age, and a lot of my friends have had experiences where they’re dating someone much older than themselves, and it ended up being manipulative and abusive relationship.
Being a bartender, I talk to a lot of people. Dating multiple people gets more attention than, say, being not straight. Typically I get curiosity; typically it’s positive. I have gotten a few - I told one of my coworkers that I was dating multiple people, and they’re like “oh, so you just have group sex a lot?”
People are just curious; it blows their minds that people can do that. And it’s a lot of answering questions, even when sometimes I’d rather just throw a book at their face. “Read this; I am not an encyclopedia”.
I understand this being new and fascinating; I was in your position at one point. Sometimes people take it too far with the personal questions.
How do you want to improve your community? Bloomington as a whole? This state? This country? The world?
I think getting information out there is good, exposing people to these ideas, just that they have options.
In high school, I didn’t know being not straight was an option, so it just kinda blew my mind. I hadn’t taken the time to consider it, or self-analyze, because I didn’t know it was a thing.
If more people are aware of it, they can ask themselves “is this what I want?” If you’re aware of it, if you have the information, it’s not like this scary, foreign thing that invalidates your life choices.
Participating in this is something I can do; fostering a sense of community, being supportive of people.
How do you feel about the state of things right now? (for yourself, your family, your friends)
Things have calmed down recently, but right after the election, some of my friends were terrified; some bought guns. I’m certainly not harassed, but lots are; they’ve been in very scary situations, especially dealing with drunk frat boys, things like that. I know a lot of them started taking self-defense classes and carrying weapons because they did not feel safe, even in a very liberal college town. It made me very sad, because it was hitting so close to home. It also made me aware… I’ve got a lot of privilege, and I try to be aware of that.
How do you feel about the future? (for yourself, your family, your friends)
I feel that slowly but surely things are always getting better; I don’t think any kind of utopia will be achieved in my lifetime, but maybe in a few hundred years?
Based on all we’ve talked about, if you had one message you could say to the world, what would that be?
Things will be ok; life is all about balance. Even if it’s really awful at the moment, it will get better. Just because I feel that’s the nature of life.
Find, fostering, building community and social ties is really important; that’s how you get buy in this difficult life, especially when you’re in a marginalized group.
Finally: What do you think your biggest contribution has been thus far in the world/what are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of supporting people, especially my romantic partners. I’ve dated a lot of people who have mental illnesses; educating myself about that for my partners and my friends. Knowing how to take care of them, not holding their disability against them, being understanding.
Generally, I’m also very proud that I’m an artist; I paint. I like creating things.