Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
January 28, 2011
Ever Wonder What Heterosexual People Experience When Introduced To the LGBT Community?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Today, we have a guest blogger. Her name is Rachel Heng, a high school senior. Her high school has a unique program that requires all students to complete benchmark projects if they want to graduate. While freshmen, they must complete a community oriented project; as sophomores they take on a project with a world perspective; for seniors the theme is introspection. There is no project for juniors because SATs and ACTs absorb most of their attention. There is a community service aspect to all these projects. Students do research and go out into the community to find a consultant to help answer the essential question of their project.
For her senior project Rachel chose the topic “acceptance of homosexuality within Asian and Pacific Islander families” and chose Belinda for her consultant. On January 11, Belinda and Rachel attended the “Advocacy Through Everyday Conversations” workshop in Oakland where Belinda was a panelist. What follows is Rachel’s report. It speaks for itself.
Report on “Advocacy Through Everyday Conversations”
To be honest, I was really nervous for this first workshop. For one, I had never been to a workshop of any kind. What would I do there? Second of all, what if I was not welcome there? Maybe the latter was a little irrational as the workshop was open to everyone who wanted to be there, but nevertheless, I was not an LGBTQ. What if I said something tactless and insulting? What if my shallow understanding of the circumstances surrounding being an LGBT got in the way of really learning anything at the workshop? In any case, I did not have time to go through every scenario of worst cases possible because my consultant, Belinda Dronkers-Laureta and I pulled up to Emerson Elementary School, and I was past the point of no return.
After a little pre-workshop food and settling into our chairs, the workshop was nearly underway. I met a pleasant gentleman by the name of Dave Chandler. He was a speaker at the night’s event. We shook hands, and I stumbled over my words explaining that I was there with Belinda. Embarrassed, and probably red in the face, I sat down to listen to the introductions. We began with some background on our speakers who also included Andrea Shorter, Judy Appel, and, of course, Belinda Dronkers-Laureta. So, like the title of the workshop suggested, the speakers focused on conversations an LGBT might have in trying to make a straight person understand that this sexuality was as normal as any other. I never thought about it in that sense because I always just held the opinion that homosexuality was not an awkward topic to discuss. It was an eye opener.
At the workshop’s breakout session, we were supposed to introduce ourselves to the person next to us. I met a woman named Liz. Liz is currently in court fighting for custody and visitation rights of her child. Liz is also a lesbian. At the end of the workshop, I met another woman named Norma. Norma is a Chinese woman who had not talked to her family for four years – they excommunicated her because she is a lesbian. Meeting these two people made me sad because they just further confirmed what I already knew: that gay or straight people are people, and we all feel the same emotions.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org