Summer School Day 2

I could get used to this! My parents run a fantastic B&B; cup of tea in bed, breakfast on the table, an evening meal when I get home, lifts to and from the train station, they even walk the dog and play with him!

I enjoyed day 2 even more than the first…

The morning sessions were about identifying with diversity, and identifying external oppression. We did a fascinating but tough exercise in which we had to choose just 5 photos 0f people, both highly sexualised and not, from the hundreds of photos spread out over a large table. The criteria were to choose: the one with which we most identified; the one with which we least identified; the one to which we were most attracted; the one to which we were least attracted; the one we found most challenging. We then had 40 minutes in pairs to share and talk about our choices. The exercise felt quite revealing of self and to self of some things that were perhaps out of awareness. Intriguingly my partner (a trans man) and I were similarly drawn to kind, open, interesting faces, and least drawn to people in contexts and environments with which we felt nothing in common. This was followed by a presentation with plenty of open discussion about some of the journey of lesbian and gay communities especially in the early days of the gay rights movement, focusing on external oppression. Highlighted was the price paid by early activists in being committed to mental institutions, being criminalised, experiencing rejection after rejection, being misunderstood, vilified, stigmatised and excluded. It was quite an emotional morning.

The entire afternoon was focused on the process of ‘Coming Out’, which is never just a one time occurrence, but a repeated process in many varied contexts such as family, workplace, perhaps spouse; the list is endless. We looked at many of the associated difficulties and fears, and potential serious consequences for some. We looked at therapeutic situations, and imagined how we might help someone work through this process.

The after hours social visit was to ‘London Friend’ the longest running project in London to support GSD people however they need support; group work, individual counselling, health checks, STI screening, social groups, drop-ins. It was inspiring.

If day 1 felt rich, day 2 stirred a much deeper personal commitment to engage in this work therapeutically, and an emotional response to those who have lived through deeper and more scarring experiences than I could have imagined. May God be my helper.