In order to celebrate Pride Month, we reached out to edX’s LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group to participate in our edX Insider blog series. We sent over an initial set of questions, which you can see below — but they wonderfully responded: “In true queer fashion, we’ve rewritten all your questions. Part of our shared experience as LGBTQIA+ people is that we’ve rewritten the questions we ask of ourselves, to be able to answer them authentically. Our Pride comes from how we’ve explored/redefined ourselves, and we’re really happy to share that with the world.” The new questions chosen by the group are drawn from the card deck We’re Not Really Strangers — you can check out the game here.
- How did the LGBTQIA+ Group at edX come about?
- How often do you meet, and what kinds of topics are usually discussed?
- What does Pride month mean to you?
- Would you say the edX culture encourages employees to find affinity groups and support networks at work?
What would your younger self not believe about your life today?
“My younger self would not believe that I look so hetero-normative on the outside to others while maintaining my true self on the inside. I wonder if my younger self would be disappointed or understanding that it takes me a fair amount of strength and will to share that I’m queer while being terribly selective of who I say that to.”
“My younger self didn’t even have the vocabulary to talk about the person I am today.”
“My younger self would never have believed that I would be married to a wonderful partner with an amazing daughter. I just never saw it as a possibility, and it took a long time to get here really just through slow evolution when I started to think this could be possible for me too. Particularly as I had friends start to celebrate these joyful milestones.”
“My younger self didn’t grow up with positive portrayal of queer people in the media and I didn’t have them in my family and community. So I couldn’t have imagined how happy I would be. My journey with queerness has evolved and continued to involve over the course of my life — and still continues to change! Maybe the biggest thing I couldn’t have imagined is the importance of my chosen family.”
We also found ourselves thinking about people in our community who haven’t survived as long as we have. We wanted to highlight a brief list of resources for folks who may be struggling in their youth. Keeping our community alive, together, and healthy are for us an important part of Pride.
What question are you trying to answer most in your life right now?
“How do we all get free?”
“How are we all still here, in this painful place? How have things not changed 100% for the better? I watch older movies from the 90s and when they’re set in the “future” and the year is 2032, I exhale with a sad laugh.”
“Is it possible to live a comfortable, happy life while still being committed to social justice?”
“How can I get more comfortable starting difficult conversations with those outside of my social circle?”
“I see queerness as an invitation to ask questions and continually be curious about my identity, experiences, and relationship with others. So, I continue to ask, ‘Is the way that I conceive of myself and my identity making me happy and does it feel authentic? Where are the tensions between what society is demanding of me (even from other cisgender gay men and queer people!) and what feels authentic for me?’”
Do you think the image you have of yourself matches the image people see you as?
“My experience as a nonbinary person has for a long time involved major divergence between how I know myself and how others see me. I have come to expect it, as I snatch my body back from gender. Masculinity cannot lay claim to my beard, my tallness, my skinny legs. I snatch back my mind as well. Femininity cannot lay claim to my elegance, my care, my healing.”
“No, most people aren’t aware at all that I’m queer. That I’ve lived a life so vastly different than the average that I worry talking about it will push some people over the edge. I’m proud of that life, though. I’m proud to share it with this incredible group of people. I’m grateful we have this community.”
“Similarly to the first answer, as an agender person who is not androgynous-looking, people make a lot of untrue assumptions about my gender.”
“I think about this a lot. I sometimes feel like I’m always in some sort of drag; I contain multitudes and contradictions and don’t fit into a calcified image or label. Something I love about queerness is that it is an invitation to ask questions, to be curious about “image” and “identity”. On any given day at any given moment, my image only reflects a single facet of my identity. Some of this is because I don’t feel comfortable presenting what feels fully authentic because of what society demands. Sometimes I fear for my safety or how a fully authentic presentation will affect my career.”
Has a stranger ever changed your life?
“When I’ve faced hardship and come out on the other side, it’s incredible how strangers pick up on your new-found happiness. Getting out of my last relationship took months of effort and years of struggle to come to terms with the fact that I was losing my true self. Once I was out of that space, strangers would smile, say hello, compliment me, move out of the way to let me by. It was like they could sense and felt compared to share in the moment as well as remind me, “THIS IS WHAT TRUE HAPPINESS FEELS LIKE. REMEMBER THIS.” I hang onto those moments when I stumble and fall, and use it as motivation to have zero tolerance for anything that makes me feel less than I am.”
“I’m reminded of” [sic]
“I remember getting invited to a barbeque at a coworker’s place at my last job. I thought it was going to be with a bunch of other coworkers, but it ended up being the coworker, his husband, and a bunch of their gaybors. It was the first time I remember being in a queer space and how I felt like an invisible burden was lifted. The lightness made me realize how much energy I was spending on altering my presentation, gestures, vocabulary, and social references for most spaces I was in on a daily basis. Queer space felt like such a gift.”
These are a few answers, but are by no means all of the answers that our community could give to these questions. Answering these questions authentically (especially in the context of a company blog post) isn’t possible for everyone, but sometimes Pride can feel like a demand to perform our authenticity & vulnerability for others. We’ve answered these questions and discussed them as a group of LGBTQIA+ people, and we’ve also chosen some of the answers we generated to not leave our space. We wanted to highlight that, in the interest of creating more space for more authenticity in Pride celebrations around the world.