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Detroit: Start somethin’

By |2009-10-22T09:00:00-04:00October 22nd, 2009|News|

For two days in Detroit, an ambitious group of African Americans – gay, straight, bisexual and transgender – will use group-process therapy to create a unique kind of dialogue about how race, gender, attractionality, stereotypes and social justice affect individuals in the black community.
The Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ program takes place Oct. 24 and 25 at the University of Detroit Mercy Commerce and Finance Building. The two-day dialogue is free and African Americans of all orientations are encouraged to attend.
Detroit native Dr. Amorie Robinson, one of the facilitators of the group, hopes that heteroattractional black people will attend. “For many, this could be the first – and only – opportunity to talk to non-heteroattractional people and ask questions without fear of being put down or being called homophobic,” Robinson said. “We expect there is going to be discomfort, but with well-structured group process, that discomfort can help move the group forward.”
In the discussion sessions, participants will meet with others who share their identities to come up with issues that are important to them and stereotypes they would like to dispel. Then the groups will come together to see where the commonalities lie, and determined what bridges can be mended. Robinson says this type of program is different from roundtable discussions and panels because it allows people to feel comfortable asking questions as a group with others who share their identities, and knowing they are not the only ones who have similar questions.
Crystalee Crain is a former board member of Sistahs Providing Intelligence Creativity and Empowerment who is coming from her hometown of Flint to help facilitate the homoattractional black women’s discussion group.
“This event means a lot to me and I want people of color to understand that being LGBTQ is not something that divides us. For too long this is the message that I’ve been getting and I know I’m not the only one,” Crain said.
She predicts that others in her group will want to talk about relations with other people such at co-workers and families. She also says that religion may be an issue for some people, and the perception that some faith-based AIDS support programs may be biased against the gay community.
Robinson also thinks that men in the group “may want to talk about the idea of manhood and what that is.”
“We want to talk about the things we can agree on,” Robinson added. “Things we all know, like that our culture socializes us to be heteroattractional. Also that we are all people who want to live our lives and be accepted for who we are. Everybody feels that way, and that is where we may be able to connect.”
Robinson, Crane and the other facilitators came up with a list of reasons why people, particularly heteroattractional people, should attend. “One reason is there is a lot of confusion about gay people – who they are and how they live,” Robinson said. “Another good reason is that more and more people are coming out at younger ages and it would behoove heteroattractional people to know how to react in a way that won’t alienate them. This would give them the tools to know how to respond.
“I’m realizing that a lot of heteroattractional people are hiding someone in their family who is gay.”
The program will also give homoattractional people the chance to ask questions and learn how to better relate to people in all groups.
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ is sponsored by the Aracus Foundation, The University of Detroit Mercy Psychology Clinic and the African American Studies Program. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited so pre-registration is required.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
Oct. 24-25
Commerce and Finance Building, University of Detroit Mercy
313-570-1543

For more information, call Dr. Robinson at 313-570-1543, e mail detroitstartsomething@gmail.com, or register online at {http://surveys.polldaddy.com/s/7DB64D19634AOFE.}

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