I must admit to myself that in all aspects of my life I have had and continue to have to address diversity at many levels. I may not have known what diversity was when I was younger and growing up, but I know, currently, looking back that I was dealing with diversity. When I was in elementary school, I was introduced to my first interaction with an African-American child. I had no idea how to react except to be myself around him. My parents always taught me to treat others the way I would want to be treated. I have continued to use that motto up to and including current times in my life.
I know what it feels like to deal with social biases and stereotyping since I am an openly gay man. I know that in growing up and living in a rural community that the diversity tolerance and acceptance has not caught up to current times in urban communities nearby. This just reminds me daily to be open-minded and accepting of diverse cultures, races, ethnicity, sexuality, and other differences that exist. I was intrigued by the video of iO Tillett-Wright (2012) speaking about the gray area of the spectrum of how people identify themselves with of being gay based on a spectrum between 100% gay and 100% straight. I had never thought of that concept! I find that to be true in the world in other aspects of diversity, as well.
I know that I have certain biases of my own that I need to continue to address. I know I for the longest time did not understand the idea of transgender, myself. But I really did not know anyone that was going through the process of changing genders. My niece is becoming my nephew and has changed names to Alexx from Kimberly. He told me that he feels better, and the mental health issues are being addressed that existed from the internal struggle that he was experiencing. He was very depressed and was self-mutilating to deal with his own issues and did not think that the family would understand and/or accept his need to fit in the right body. My sister, his mother, is very supportive and his older sister is very supportive. He has my support and my boyfriend’s support, as well. It has not been easy dealing with my own bias and I will continue to work on the bias that a person is born into the body that he/she is supposed to be in. This is where my own religious beliefs and my upbringing is colliding with the idea of accepting diversity. My mother, his grandmother, does not accept the change and will never accept it based on her religious beliefs and has made that very clear. This topic has been eye and mind opening to me and understanding that I have a bias based on what I was taught, and I have had to research in my own life how to accept the changes with Alexx. I know that God is a God of love and Alexx should be loved by everyone!
Education is the key in my opinion on accepting and teaching embracing diversity. The formal education of teaching diversity is happening in this class and throughout many universities and colleges across the United States and the world. But, we as individuals need to teach others based on our interactions and communication how to accept diversity, as well! I will be more mindful to teach accepting diversity on every occasion as possible. It is important to keep my biases in check and change the biases that come along. I need to continue to educate myself in researching the differences that I do not understand.
I have thought about being an online college professor after obtaining my Master’s degree besides counseling individuals. In educating others, this would be a great opportunity to educate others on the importance of accepting differences and embracing diversity!
I end here reminding myself to be kind to others and erase what I was previously taught on how tolerance of diversity is the only way to think about diversity. I need to try to understand the differences and educate myself on what I do not understand. Many people are open to answering questions and I need to ask the questions when the opportunities present themselves!