Reflecting on Identity

Last week’s class discussion really sparked a lot in my own reflection. I come from a very conservative religious family and had only really begun to understand a lot about different identities (especially those in the LGBT community) while in undergrad. This class has really helped me expand my understanding of different identities in different ways and how we need to address these narratives in museums. Last week’s class really helped me because the T in LGBT was always a little confusing for me. I didn’t quite understand the members in this community, although I had certainly come a long way from my roots. I also felt intimidated by my ignorance even of the correct words and pronouns. Last week’s readings really helped me understand more about this community and the discussion in class was riveting.

Since my awakening in undergrad, I have considered myself an ally. I considered this a part of my identity, if only as a contrast to what I had grown up with. I was surprised by some of the discussion with the controversy of ally being an identity. I was confused by the different arguments presented from the class concerning this topic and found myself contemplating each one vigorously and then changing my understanding with each new perspective.

Image Credit: Huffington Post

I had never considered how the ally identity could be seen as overpowering the LGBT identities. On the other hand, I had never considered how traditionally the ally identity had not been attributed to any other social activism issue and identity. Were male feminists allies? Was the same idea there even if we did not use the term allies? Were allies overpowering the LGBT identity? I wondered (and still do) if I have enough experience and knowledge in this area to even make an argument for either side. Would I ever have enough experience or knowledge to talk about identities that I do not hold? Can I as a cis-straight white person ever understand both sides of this argument fully?

I’ve considered this a lot since class last week. My understanding of different identities has been expanded since undergrad and exponentially just in this past semester. My understanding of my own identity has been questioned and changed accordingly. I do still consider being an ally (not only to LGBT communities by also minority communities of color, ability, etc.) to be a part of my identity. This is a part of my identity that I want to continue to expand and I want to walk the walk.

Through this course and others during my time here at CGP, I have become very passionate about the idea of accessibility and inclusivity in museums and want to continually examine how we can do more. I may not yet have an answer to issue of the ally identity, but I know how it is a part of my identity (which is ever changing) and that’s enough for me. I can’t tell people how their identity works out. That’s not how identity works. However, I can strive to consider as many identities as possible whether I’m designing a program or simply interacting with others.

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