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Author Topic: sexual orientation vs racial/cultural diversity  (Read 59407 times)
tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2012, 2:34:48 AM »

I didn't know what authoethnography was until a thread in 'Research Questions' regarding a sketchy academic paper in this field popped up.

It might be wise not to take that patently ridiculous sample of scholarship as a representative example of anything at all.  Autoethnography is actually quite an interesting and valuable genre of writing that straddles disciplinary fields.  It's not intended to be comparable to other social science methodologies, especially more empirical ones.
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octoprof
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2012, 8:53:34 AM »

Anyway, I'm curious about my own experience of this and any other minority and non-minorities thoughts on privilege and oppression, visibility and invisibility, and differences between racial/cultural and sexual orientation diversity as they show up in the workplace or educational settings.

I don't think the issue is sexual orientation minority v. cultural minority. The broader issue is invisible v. Visible minorityness. I am a cultural/racial minority that is invisible (think Hispanic that doesn't look it and has no accent, although that's not it), so I've experienced two sides of this invisibility issue. So, from a research perspective, you should consider both perspectives.

First, of course, is the feeling you are getting the majority privileges because others don't know or notice. Conversely, you may be ignored as a minority by other minorities who either don't notice or know your minorityness or think it can't possibly matter since you look like a majority person.

I was once on a conference panel discussing diversity where another member of the panel referred to me as "the non-minority on the panel" which I found a bit demeaning, as well as inaccurate. That panelist was gay (also an invisible minority, we only knew because the panelist told us - that was not why that panelist was asked to be on the panel originally) and the other panelists were African-American.

Another parallel example is the person with a serious disability who "looks" healthy.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 8:56:32 AM by octoprof » Logged

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marlo_stanfield
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2012, 1:21:11 PM »

Visibility envy huh, I'm trying really hard not to roll my eyes but...
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msparticularity
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2012, 3:06:22 AM »

Visibility envy huh, I'm trying really hard not to roll my eyes but...

Yeah, I know it sounds like privileged cr@p, but it can be quite real. Part of it, as Octo says, has to do with the assumptions that others make about one's knowledge and experiences. In my case, for example, while I can't speak from personal experience about discrimination based upon the color of my skin, I can speak to the reality of being raised in a multiracial family that was obsessed with "passing" as white in the days of the segregated South. The kinds of anxiety I experienced over skin tone and hair texture and speech do parallel experiences shared by many visible members of racial/ethnic minorities, and yet I sometimes fear to talk about it because I don't want others--whose personal experience has been far more extensive--to think that I'm trying to engage in some kind of cultural appropriation.
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edmonddantes
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2012, 2:00:46 PM »

For what it's worth...

I recently came out (to myself and a couple of close friends) as a gay male.  Few people know right away when they meet me, though I'd suspect some have an idea.  I'm middle class and white.  And, I'm a grad student.

As far as being perceived as a minority, I have two points.  First, I would never openly call myself a minority and don't internally consider myself one.  I don't know why this is exactly, but to me minority status has always been dependent on ethnic/cultural/racial components and never sexuality.  Since I came out I have begun to reconsider this, and in certain ways I feel like a minority (ie. government policies, politicians' campaigns, derogatory speech), but I would never use the term to describe myself and may even feel a little uncomfortable if it were applied to me.  I think this has more to do with my own difficult coming out process than anything else, though.  Second, sometimes I am grateful that I am not a visible minority (to use your term).  --I know that sounds terrible, but it is true.

As far as it affecting my education, being gay hasn't changed much.  Though few students in my department know, I don't think the students or profs would care much, and so I don't worry about it.  On the other hand, one of the best programs in my field is located in a very conservative university and I had to think long and hard about applying there, both going to school there and also living in the town.  I ended up applying.  Also, I came out during my MA--it was very difficult to get work done while struggling with so much internally.  I got everything done I needed to, but it was an extremely difficult time for me.   

A unique and VERY difficult part of being gay or lesbian is the coming out process, as you know, and perhaps more difficult for some than others.*  I sometimes feel very embarrassed for having dated women before coming out.  How could I not have known?  How could I have wasted their time like that?  etc. etc.  One could argue that there is as much fluidity in race as there is sexuality (or whatever), but, for me at least, the coming out process was VERY difficult.  Having to accept something about myself and attempt to be proud of it--or at least not hate myself because of it--that I could easily hide and never deal with, was very hard for me.  Maybe being a confirmed bachelor wouldn't be so bad...

*I recently told an acquaintance who is gay that I am homosexual.  He didn't understand why it was a difficult process for me.  He said he'd known since he was in the 8th grade and implied that I'm not honest with myself since I didn't know that I was gay until recently.  I don't mean to get bogged down in the fluidity of sexuality, or repression etc., but I wanted to make the point that the coming out process is more difficult for some than it is for others, and that the process is difficult for someone to understand if they haven't been through it themselves (as many members of visible minorities have not). 

 
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2012, 3:14:51 PM »

Hey OP, you might want to come back to the conversation.  You are having the highly unusual experience of starting a topic in this forum that did not turn into a verbal food-fight or trainwreck within the first 24 hours.  A few people may continue to snark, I suppose, but you know:  welcome to identity politics. 

I have found the responses here so far very interesting, so I'm glad you posted the question.  It would be interesting to know what you think.
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spork
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« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2012, 10:18:50 AM »

I didn't know what authoethnography was until a thread in 'Research Questions' regarding a sketchy academic paper in this field popped up. Maybe I don't understand the point, but to me it's not a 'study' if N=1 and N=You. Maybe you can write an interesting autobiography about your experiences, but it will have no relevance to the broader question of what it means to be an invisible minority unless you include a broader sample.

To the OP: I dearly hope that you are not thinking of turning the project which you describe into a dissertation. Your chances for academic employment post-PhD are slim enough already.

- spork, friend of all lesbians everywhere, but especially the tall, redheaded ones
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heptameron
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« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2012, 9:55:57 PM »

The Academy is sexist and ageist and racist:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/oscars/9094326/Oscars-2012-Academy-members-overwhelmingly-male-white-and-old.html
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chaosbydesign
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« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2012, 11:18:25 PM »


Did you read that article before posting it?
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canuckois
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« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2012, 12:24:36 AM »


This made me laugh. 

Heptameron, you're either a comic genius or a tool.  I suspect the latter.
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edmonddantes
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« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2012, 12:11:43 PM »

This may not be the right thread, but I'd posted earlier and thought I might try to revive it.

Another sexual orientation difficulty involves the level of information you can (or are personally willing) to divulge.  As mentioned up thread, I'm a gay male who came out during my MA, breaking up with my girlfriend in the process.  Since, I've had a serious half-year relationship with a man that I recently broke off.  As would be the case for anyone, this has been a difficult and very emotional time for me.

What makes this particularly difficult for me is that I can't mention it, even in passing, to the people I work with.  Should I let a break up drastically affect my work?  No.  Do I typically divulge much personal information?  No.  Is it my own fault that few people in my department know that I'm gay (for various personal reasons, such as them having met my ex-girlfriend and me not wanting to answer sexuality questions)?  Yes.

However, would it be nice to mention in passing to my fellow TA something along the lines of 'Sorry, this is a day late, I just broke up with my boyfriend and it's been a little hard.'?  Yes.  Or, to my thesis advisor: 'sorry these corrections aren't the best, I'm going through a couple of rough post-break up days.'?  Yes.  And to not have to worry about vague pronouns. 

I know that break ups are hard for everyone.  And I know that I need to just suck it up.  But grad. school is rather isolating, and, for me, its been particularly so in this regard.
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profreader
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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2012, 12:26:30 PM »

This may not be the right thread, but I'd posted earlier and thought I might try to revive it.

Another sexual orientation difficulty involves the level of information you can (or are personally willing) to divulge.  As mentioned up thread, I'm a gay male who came out during my MA, breaking up with my girlfriend in the process.  Since, I've had a serious half-year relationship with a man that I recently broke off.  As would be the case for anyone, this has been a difficult and very emotional time for me.

What makes this particularly difficult for me is that I can't mention it, even in passing, to the people I work with.  Should I let a break up drastically affect my work?  No.  Do I typically divulge much personal information?  No.  Is it my own fault that few people in my department know that I'm gay (for various personal reasons, such as them having met my ex-girlfriend and me not wanting to answer sexuality questions)?  Yes.

However, would it be nice to mention in passing to my fellow TA something along the lines of 'Sorry, this is a day late, I just broke up with my boyfriend and it's been a little hard.'?  Yes.  Or, to my thesis advisor: 'sorry these corrections aren't the best, I'm going through a couple of rough post-break up days.'?  Yes.  And to not have to worry about vague pronouns. 

I know that break ups are hard for everyone.  And I know that I need to just suck it up.  But grad. school is rather isolating, and, for me, its been particularly so in this regard.
Going through grad school was definitely a rough time - my grad class had a number of divorces and other relationship turbulence. Although I didn't come out in grad school, when I did come out, I experienced that period when (for some friends) you have to do a fair amount of explaining and it becomes exhausting to relive it/"make it okay" for each person.

So - are you developing some kind of support network where you can talk/vent/laugh/cry about these things? I totally get wanting to keep a certain personal/professional separation (which is wise), but it's always good to have someone to talk to.
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edmonddantes
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« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2012, 2:02:36 PM »

Quote
So - are you developing some kind of support network where you can talk/vent/laugh/cry about these things? I totally get wanting to keep a certain personal/professional separation (which is wise), but it's always good to have someone to talk to.

Profreader, I appreciate the feedback very much.

Fortunately, a very good friend of my very good friend just moved to town, along with her boyfriend.  They've both been quite helpful in the venting/listening department.  And, essentially, they've only known me as gay (we met only briefly before I came out).  That's when things are easiest for me: when people don't need an explanation, they just take it as such.

Also, one half of my friends back home know.  And they're very supportive and quite good listeners.  So, though I feel pretty isolated in my MA-town and my support network could be wider, I've got several good people to talk to.  They may not understand everything, but at least they'll listen.

As you mentioned, it's generally not that I dread coming out to people, but rather the 'how did you not know' conversation that it requires.

I appreciate your sharing.
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chaosbydesign
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« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2012, 11:28:48 PM »

Although I didn't come out in grad school, when I did come out, I experienced that period when (for some friends) you have to do a fair amount of explaining and it becomes exhausting to relive it/"make it okay" for each person.

This is why my new grad school friends don't know anything about my sexuality right now. I don't have the time or energy to deal with them not accepting it without wanting to talk about it in detail. While I almost think they might just accept it because they know me now, I also am unsure about that because of the way they have spoken about gay people that they know. It's a little weird to me because I get the impression that it is not as 'acceptable' to be a lesbian where I live now in comparison with where I lived before. I don't care, particularly, as the people I am closest to are totally accepting, but it does concern me that others may not be and I have no idea of knowing how they'll react before mentioning it.

I'm glad you have some people you can talk to, EdmondDantes -- that really helps, especially when you have people you can talk to with no explanations required. FWIW, I think it's OK to say that you're going through a tough time at the moment and may be a little less productive than usual for a few days/weeks. Grad school is hard enough without external stresses on top of it, and it's OK to need to take a break sometimes.
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2012, 11:39:21 PM »


As you mentioned, it's generally not that I dread coming out to people, but rather the 'how did you not know' conversation that it requires.


Just a bit of info from someone who has been there:  That bit of conversation is not actually required.  Interlocutors might ask the question, but you can easily and politely redirect.  Develop that skill now.
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