Your story is important.
That’s why Dr. Stephanie Andrea Allen is on a mission to help you find your voice and improve your writing.
“When I discovered there was more Black lesbian fiction than what was taught in school, I committed myself to amplifying the voices of Black lesbians and queer women of color,” Dr. Allen said at her workshop on October 23, 2018 at the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
Dr. Allen is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at BLF Press, an independent press that “creates a space for forward thinking, creative women of exceptional talent.” She started the press in graduate school to help combat the lack of diversity in publishing and dispel the notion that Black lesbian writing was unworthy or had no literary merit.
During her talk, Dr. Allen spoke about her role as Board Chair at the LGBT Center of Raleigh and her not-for-profit collaborative called the Black Lesbian Literary Collective. Her purpose that evening was to answer questions about the writing and publishing process.
Below are three takeaways from her discussion.
Kris at the LGBT Center of Raleigh's Welcome Desk
Kris (they/ them) is a regular volunteer at the LGBT Center of Raleigh and a leader in the Trans Initiative program. Kris has had quite the journey to get to where they are, and now that they are living their truth, they are sharing the love.
Kris is from Zebulon, NC – a very conservative town in the easternmost part of Wake County. Kris describes it as “a whole different world.” Raised by their homophobic and transphobic parents, Kris dealt with mental health issues because of their identity. An idea they explored primarily online until a potential suicide attempt. This led to Kris being admitted to Holly Hill Hospital for addiction treatment and suicide prevention. While there, Kris’ therapist insisted they come out as transgender to their parents. While Kris’ parents were not accepting or supportive, it was safe for Kris to go home. And the final suggestion made by the therapist before Kris left was to visit the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
We all have a story.
This is hers…
Lisa is a regular Tuesday morning volunteer at the Center. She shares the time with another Tuesday morning regular. The two make a great volunteer duo, and their commitment to the Center is proven. But the two have not always worked together. Lisa was drawn to the Center through a whirlwind of events. Events that unfolded in the shameful aftermath of HB2, North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill.”
Lisa describes herself as a pleaser, one not likely to protest, but for Lisa, there was a breaking point. A point where she would choose to stand up and use her voice. A voice that would get her arrested. Following HB2, Lisa decided she would participate in Moral Monday. And with a clear head and a heavy heart, Lisa decided she was comfortable taking this all the way to the finish line. She decided that she would get arrested.
This past weekend the LGBT Center of Raleigh in conjunction with many other youth serving organizations across North Carolina came together and held our annual ASPYRE Youth Camp. ASPYRE stands for a ‘A Safer Place for Youth to Reach Excellence”… and reach excellence we did!
Tucked away at a quiet YMCA Camp in Greensboro, our team of youth, youth counselors, and adult administrators engaged in a three day empowerment camp: with the explicit goal of bettering the lives of LGBTQ Youth across North Carolina. Our group from OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley was especially eager to learn how to form and maintain GSA’s in their school systems!
The DSM-5 was released this past Saturday and for gender non-conforming individuals everywhere it is an historic moment. In this revision “Gender Identity Disorder” has been reclassified to what most of us have known for years as “Gender Dysphoria,” or a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.
At this point, even if you don’t have a clue, say “wow!”
This classification is several years in the making and has been overlooked in the last two DSM manuals. It may not sound all that spectacular, but this forever changes the societal landscape for transgender individuals. No longer being classified as a “mental disorder” or, in other words a sickness of the mind, opens the floodgates to many things for transgender individuals. For example, opponents of transgender civil and medical rights have often used the previous disorder classification in the fight for equal access to restrooms, adoption, and employment for transgender individuals. No longer can they use this argument. No longer can they use the DSM as a weapon against a trans-person’s right to pee, be a parent, or get a job.