If I were born a dog I’d probably be an Australian Shepherd. I say this because I am instinctively an organizer of people. The end result of my herder tendencies is that in many of my social circles I end up being the person planning the outings.
As I expanded this tendency into coordinating events to include unknown local folks with shared mutual interests and niches (such as a food truck outing for Spanish speaking Latin@ fat queers whose favorite cosplay is Harry Potter), I realized it was important to strive for an inclusive and welcoming space that incorporated an understanding of intersectionality.
In my perspective maximizing accessibility is key to manifesting this vibe.
Most of these gatherings are a volunteer labor of love. There is no budget to hire ASL translators for a free event coordinated by a financially strapped group of SF Bay area renters whose monthly budget is swallowed up by plunking down $$$$ thousands to sublease a shoe shelf to sleep on in the closet of a place that houses 60 other roomies. So the practical and ethical solution seemed to be to
walk sign the talk and for me to learn ASL. But I was still on the fence due to the longevity commitment required to become proficient and to practical physical concerns around carpal tunnel. I left the idea to percolate in my ADHD brain, squeezed in between thoughts of which crayon color to choose for my next DIY lipstick and if I should join the protests against power abusing racist murderous cops in Oakland or S.F., while I was busy doing social media promotions of my next event during the time I was keeping an eye on my neighbor’s kid and “oh, look a chicken!”
During this contemplation period, my main squeeze and I shared a relationship conversation. It began as an unsettled dispute on what to watch together. Our preferences in t.v. programs share about as much in common as Sarah Palin and Bernie Sanders share in politics. It meandered into a discussion about how divergent our passions are. Then on to an article we’d read on how partners who learn an interest together grow closer through the struggle.
We began to throw out possibilities that the other one kept nixing. Sparking chemistry like that scene from Ghost by taking up pottery? Bringing home fleas to a petless home by volunteering at the SPCA? Finally, we hit upon taking a class together that might have the potential to add to our employment marketability. We mulled over a few ideas, such as computer programming before it struck me. Folks on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder tend to communicate more effectively visually rather than verbally. We both suspect my significant sweetie is an Aspie (Asperger’s). So I suggested ASL. To my astonishment I received an interested yes as a response. It wasn’t sports related (if it’s not dancing nor swimming it’s not my thing) and it wasn’t artsy-crafty (if it’s not non-fiction it’s not my primary’s thing). We were good to go!
*btw did folks reading this notice the ASL pic lacks ethnic diversity in its signers? One way privilege manifests itself is that folks with it see visual representations they personally relate to and are oblivious to whom remains unseen. This is one area that some ASL charts have begun to take a more inclusive approach on and future posts I will do on this topic will reflect that as well.