I spent part of my Junior year in college abroad in France. Invariably, wherever I was, when I was talking to someone new in my grammatically "original" French, with my accent that I prided myself sounded "Parisian," it would come up in the conversation, mysteriously, that I was from America. "America?" They'd ask.
"Do you know Stephan B., he lives in Toronto?"
Um... well, it was the same continent.
I always felt a bit silly, but even today this happens a lot. You meet a new person, and you try to figure out how you might be connected. Who you might know in common.
It's like the 6 degrees of separation game, where the idea is that you can connect to ANYBODY on the whole planet in 6 steps or less. Like me to President Obama. I've never met him, but my friend and amazing author Jacqueline Woodson has. There. One degree of separation.
Okay, so Gay Geography for Straight people is a game where you try to figure out how someone is connected to anyone in the Gay (GLBTQAI) community. Try to help them realize that there is someone out there who is Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual, or Transgender, or Queer, or Gender Non-Conforming, or Questioning, or Allied, or Intersex that THEY CARE ABOUT.
For some people, the closest they're going to come is that their mother loves watching Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, and Ellen's a lesbian.
For others, they're going to realize that they DO have someone they know personally whom they care about that's part of our "rainbow" community. A sister. A grandfather. A cousin. A friend.
I bet that EVERYONE, if they're honest about it, has SOMEONE they care about that's part of the Gay community.
If Newt Gingrich can have a lesbian sister (Candace Gingrich), and Dick Cheney can have a lesbian daughter (Mary Cheney) and a granddaughter with lesbian moms, every single person at your school (students and faculty) has SOMEONE they care about who is GLBTQAI, too.
Now clearly from those last two examples, having someone you care about be part of the Gay community doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a supporter of Gay rights. But imagine the impact it would make if every single person in your school, or in our country, or in our world, had to stand up and say how they were connected to us:
"My brother John is gay. And I care about him."Imagine what that would be like.
"My second cousin Eden is gay. And I care about him."
"My little sister Suzy is gender non-conforming - a Tomboy. And I care about her."
"My friend's husband Brett is a cross-dresser. And I care about him."
"My friend Adam is questioning his orientation. And I care about him."
"My teacher Ms. Jackson is a lesbian. And I care about her."
"My grandmother Odetta is bisexual. She's awesome, and I care about her."
"My friend's father, Lee, is gay. I care about their family."
The idea is to show that there really isn't such a line between "us" and "them."
Our world is really made up of "we."
Try out a game of Gay Geography in your GSA this week. And see where it takes you!
ps- I found the gay globe image here in this article on Gay life in Shanghai!