{thread} #PSA OF THE DAY: Being an ally to people of color and people with disabilities (or any marginalized group) when you're a sexuality professional means saying things like this when you're invited to speak on a panel, as part of an event series, to keynote for Sex Weeks:
"Looked over the list and it sounds like you have quite a variety of topics there. Congrats! One thing I wanted to make a quick plug for was working to ensure that some of these are led by people of color. Do you by any chance know if, beyond me, you have events like that?
If not, I'm happy to recommend some other colleagues that would love to come and are highly skilled at presenting. I also know folks who have disabilities that could come present about those intersections as well."

(Same goes for, say, sex worker rep esp now with SESTA/FOSTA)
It means putting your 💰 where your 👄 is & either making it a req of booking you that they diversify what they're doing, or if they cannot/will not, ensuring that if you DO take the gig, you put those voices who were left out front & center & follow up with the group about it.
And obviously that’s not the only way to do it, that’s just a sample script I’ve used in the past. The point is making sure you have the conversation. It takes some energy, but it doesn’t have to take a ton of time, esp if you’ve done your work to KNOW THOSE NAMES & COLLEAGUES.
Do you keep seeing the same faces that event? Is your one of those faces? Consider moving over, consider sharing the spotlight. Invite people in underrepresented groups to present on things OTHER than their marginalization. Use your clout even if it’s small to make change.
Also to my fellow QTPOC/etc that are often tokenized or brought in as the “only voice“ for a community: DON’T FALL FOR THAT TRAP. It’s a stunt and a scam, even when not done maliciously. The ignorance leading to “we only need one drop of color/diversity here” is still harmful.
You’ll feel special as Chosen and it’s a nice feeling and it’s ALSO built on a trash heap. Demand better. Demand more. Don’t just walk through the open door and close it behind you. Help prop it open and pull others through. How are you part of helping others come along?
If you think you paved the way for yourself solo, please disabuse yourself of that notion because boy howdy did you not make it on your own. No one did or has or will. We all may overcome obstacles, but we don’t do it alone even when it FEELS that way.
Speaking of which: who are those who helped you along the way? Who mentored you, recommended you, emailed you about gigs or events, went with you to things, shared your content, looked over your material, gave critique that improved your work? How have you shown them gratitude?
AND ALSO: how are we all stepping to the plate when orgs use the “I take my lead from {underrepresented group} / just tell me what to do” as an excuse to not make any moves or progress around equity & inclusion unless specifically and METICULOUSLY directed by ppl in that group?
NAME IT. DON’T LET IT SLIDE. Even if a formal union doesn’t exist at least work in coordination with e/o. If an org is tokenizing people & someone steps away but someone else steps in, THAT UNDERMINES TAKING A STAND. “Oh but if I don’t do it they’ll remain a {majority} org!”
Surprise: they already were, it’s likely they’ll burn you out and/or ignore you, you don’t have to be a martyr. To change organizational culture in a sustainable way, you need organized efforts and key players invested in the cause. If that’s not there, build that power first.
“Oh but if I don’t take the gig I won’t be able to pay my bills!” GREAT POINT! This is where having built community is essential. How do we take care of each other and show up for each other in these situations? Barter and skillsharing are INCREDIBLY VALUABLE.
If you take the middleman of money out, how can you trade services and do mutual aid to help strengthen united efforts to work against tokenizing & faux diversity work? Esp if you DO need to free money to pay for certain things where you often CANNOT barter (e.g. rent, medical).
Can allies & friends help, say, pay part of your rent so you don’t have to take the tokenizing gig? Can ppl offer transit or connection to another better gig? Can ppl offer childcare? Can ppl barter website design for whatever else? We must think creatively about our strategies!
“Oh but I think I can make change if I hop aboard the team!” Also a good argument, but one where we gotta be realistic. Are you the first to do this? (That’s hard but also a fresh opportunity!) Or has there been a string of people like you getting ignored & pushed out?
Many people, especially who have been The Only One Of Their Kind in spaces for a long time, have had to overcompensate & overperform, & we’ve been taught that that’s the only way to get ahead AND also that we are Special for that. That’s part of the strategy of dominant cultures.
It’s a divide and conquer tactic plain and simple. It makes some of us feel Special. “Not like those other girls” type mentality. It’s a way to diminish our collective power. We must resist that & work together. And I say that but it’s not EASY. That’s ok. We can still do it.
If you’re gonna take a gig where others have burnt out before you, be very clear with yourself about CONCRETELY why and how you think it’ll be different with you and run that but at least two other people who can honesty consider and critique it. See what supports you’ll need.
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