Tonight, Audre Lorde Project hosted a facilitator training for LGBT people of color.
A lot of gender non-conforming and cisgender women. I was probably one of 2 of East Asians and one of the few gay cisgender men in the room. For some reason, I could not get myself to speak up.
One person said they work with sex workers who come into their meetings with a lot of emotional baggage. How could ALP’s facilitation model assist? Yelling so-called “community agreements” like “one mic” was not going to stop fist fights.
It became clear that socioeconomic class and education created diferent views. ALP facilitator Cleo asked us the difference between “teaching” and “facilitation.” While a lot of folks who went to college asociatied “teaching” with one-way lectures and facilitation as a helpful tool, one participant said:
“Actually, I grew up with LGBT African American seniors in Philly who taught me to garden. Teaching from my experience has been positive way of the older generation imparting knowhow to my generation. I didn’t go to college like all of y’all. I learned facilitation when I started coming into these non-profit spaces. Y’all ask me to talk a certain way and it feels oppressive.”
We framed everything in terms of “education level,” but really the root was socioeconomic class. I come from a middle-class Asian family in Queens. Inevitably, the way I speak will be different from some inner city youth.
At workshop’s end, someone asked if everybody was “Gucci.?” I looked for a handbag or other designer gear, but realized they were asking if we were good like Gucci?
The LGBT community is not monolithic – so even though I felt shy, I’m hoping to see where the facilitator workshop takes me .
Lot of great acronyms for ground rules, like “WAIT” for Why am I Talking? to challenge over-sharers to let others a chance to speak. Or like ELMO, which is “everyone let’s move on,” a great strategy to keep the conversation going. If only, acronyms could solve all of the world’s problems!