Summer School Day 3

This week is changing me on the inside. It seems to me that as humans we can feel intimidated by the things we know little about or have little experience of. The unknown can be scary; at the same time we feel drawn to it and hold back from it. We need not fear. Human is human; it just may sound different on the outside.

Did I mention yet how grateful I am to be having this opportunity to learn about the issues that GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversity) people face every day? So grateful.

Once again I am sitting on the 8.51 reflecting on Day 3, and preparing for Day 4. Each time I look inside of me to find what it is I am trying to articulate about the experience of this week, words fail me but I notice my heart thump in my chest because its import feels huge.

A young friend said to me yesterday: “in 2 particular subjects at during Year 9 (at secondary school) we were told where we should sit, rather than choosing our seat. I spent the whole year in both subjects sitting next to a really chavvy girl. I thought we wouldn’t get on, but she was really quite ok. We even had a laugh sometimes”. So long as we project ‘the problem’ into a group of people with whom we don’t identify, the problem is them, never us. Can we see and listen with open hearts and minds? This week I have met polyamory, kink, BDSM, transgender, gay and lesbian individuals. I set myself to learn as much as I could, and I find that these ways of loving so different to mine are not the problem. I am the problem if I meet labels rather than people.

So to Day 3…

In the morning sessions we looked at intersecting Identities; someone who identifies with several ‘labels’, perhaps a black or Asian lesbian might face very different challenges to a white middle-class lesbian. As therapists we need to listen to and take account of all the identities a client brings. In the afternoon we had presentations and did some practical work around internalised oppression. The external oppressions we considered on day 2 can become internalised – that is the external voices can be internalised and the client then experiences deep shame, as it hard to separate the two. Instead of hearing others say I am worthless, I say to myself I am worthless. We looked at ways of working with this deep difficulty in the therapy room.

It was an intense afternoon, in that we all did some personal work on our own internalised oppressions surrounding our own intersecting identities. Hmmmm.

So begins Day 4. My heart is strangely warmed… and I can’t help noticing that Ramadan has begun as I walk through Finsbury Park.