Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
February 3, 2012
True Gatherings Have A Magic All Their Own
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
We want to tell you how the subject of a casual conversation worked itself into an idea, from there to a set of plans, and this year, we hope, into concrete execution.
It began with a dinner conversation over the verb “to gather” and its noun “gathering.” We had just come from the BOLD Gathering in Minneapolis. We speculated that the organizers wanted something more intimate than a conference and came up with calling it a Gathering, but what exactly is a gathering? We googled an on-line dictionary to find out. Dictionaries are good for general meanings, but they are not good for terms hat may have an emotional connection. For example, gathering means: assemblage or meeting, but if that is all there is, the BOLD organizers could have called what happened in Minneapolis a Meeting or an Assemblage. They didn’t, probably because they wanted to foster more of a sense of intimacy among the attendants.
When the dictionary doesn’t do it for you, then you discuss and argue and work it out among yourselves. We did and concluded that a gathering is a meeting of people who all have something in common that they believe is momentous and gather for a specific purpose. Having something in common is important, because then they don’t have to spend time and explain that which they have in common, but more importantly, all participants feel the same. And, for our purposes, the smaller the number of people, the closer we are to the intimacy the word “to gather” holds for us.
From Those Discussions, This Idea
When a child comes out to parents the news literally alters the parents’ reality, they become, as it were, disconnected from what they know and what they believe. They have questions, they seek reassurance, they want a reality that once again makes sense. API Family Pride has a program to help. Called Family Circle, it organizes small, intimate groups to help parents handle their new reality and preserve family bonds. These are, in fact, gatherings, but with our new sense of what we want that word to mean, we have a new sense of what our Family Circle should be: a Gathering.
A gathering is a powerful event. It gathers people with a common link, it inspires hope and provokes new thinking. API Family Pride’s gatherings are over food, because good food is always celebratory and keeps us connected to our culture. We want to create a shared space and time that strongly connects us to who we are and where it is safe to speak about the unspeakable, because we all have that in common. We want the result to be that when people go home, they have a real sense of belonging to a community that they did not know existed beforehand, a community that is larger than they thought, and from which they can draw strength and safely learn.
How Are We Going To Execute The Idea?
We already know a bit about how to organize these gatherings, but our new insight allows us to emphasize some of its aspects. It is far more intimate to have them in a home with a host and hostess than in restaurants. It is also better to have only a few families, but at the same time tell everyone that there are many more families who have successfully made the new reality their own and are happy. Although we are all Asian and Pacific Islanders, it is more intimate to have these gatherings with people who have a culture in common and speak the same language or dialect.
We are planning four of these gatherings this year and are currently looking at all aspects. If you have any ideas you want to contribute or want to host a “Gathering”, let us know, 510-818-0887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org