Learning to speak out

By |2007-05-03T09:00:00-04:00May 3rd, 2007|News|

FERNDALE – Her name is Denise. She is a transgendered woman with three grown daughters, ranging in age from 21-25, from a heterosexual marriage before she began transitioning. Being and becoming who she is and felt she was meant to be caused her to endure the rejection of her spouse and one daughter, yet doing so made her feel “liberated, authentic and scared as hell.”
Denise was one of about a dozen participants who learned, with the help of three advisors, how to tell and shape their stories at the Family Pride “Outspoken” speaker’s bureau training at Affirmations April 29.
Participants filled out four pages of personal history and practiced reading them to one another in groups of five. In the end, they had chronicled their journey toward self-acceptance and told of how they created their families and the costs – both financial and emotional – of doing so. The exercise was designed to help them grow comfortable talking about themselves and their LGBT families. By telling their stories, LGBT families and their allies provide credible and indisputable information to counter the claims often made by anti-gay groups and religious leaders, who in turn influence legislators.
“By speaking in their communities, our OUTSpoken families put a face on the reality of our lives,” said Family Pride Program & Education Associate Lisa Bahr. “It’s easier for people to understand LGBT families, and our struggles for equality, when they meet us in person and hear our personal stories.”
Bahr, who is based out of Family Pride’s Washington office, was on hand to help participants craft their stories in the most convincing way. Helping her out were local activists, including Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation. Kosofsky gently critiqued the future speakers in his circle, helping them recognize the most compelling points of their stories and offering tips on how to be the most effective.
“It’s just a plain fact that when people tell their own stories it changes the world,” Kosofsky said. “So the more people who can tell their stories about bullying, the more people who can tell their stories about their families, the more people who can tell their stories about discrimination, the more likely we are to change the law.”
OUTSpoken families make a commitment to speak about the need for full family equality at least eight times per year.
“We are committed to taking every opportunity possible to make our families visible and our needs understood,” Bahr said.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.