So, you might be looking at the title and thinking, “Huh?”
But those two words are HUGE buzz words in my communities right now.
Intersectionality – the realization that my cause is your cause and that all causes feed into each other if we are talking of social justice, economic justice, legal justice…
Inclusivity – making sure that when we speak, organize and act, we are including as many people as we can in our process. (Whether they join is up to them, but we want to try to not deliberately exclude them from the conversation or action.)
But buzz words are just buzz words – until they aren’t. Until you actually see them in action.
This past weekend I attended Catalyst Con West.
It’s a pretty big conference centered around sparking conversations about sex.
It catered to a diverse crowd of sex positive speakers, educators, writers and advocates from Tenured PhD. professors to sex workers to dabblers and everyone in between.
It was a hugely diverse crowd both in natural-born characteristics and in lifestyle choices. And all were implicitly welcomed on equal terms and equal footing.
For three amazing days, we were all just… people.
It was one of the rare times that I felt like I was really participating in the mythical melting pot of America.
There were people of all races and ethnicities.
People of diverse ability levels from people with severe physical disabilities, mental disabilities, almost imperceptible disabilities.
There were people of all genders. And I say all rather than both because as I’ve stated before, gender is NOT a binary. There are many shades of gender.
There were people of all sexes. (see above, sex is also NOT a binary.)
There were people of many different sexualities, asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, and other shades that don’t come with easy labels.
There were people of all different body types from skeletal to extra voluptuous.
There were people from all different levels of socio-economic background.
People with all different levels of education from PhD to nothing beyond elementary school.
I heard at least 6 different languages being spoken.
I met people from at least 5 different faiths.
I spoke with people from every political party in the USA, and Canada.
This was the America that I envision in my dreams.
This is the America I want to work toward, fight for and see delivered.
An America where people from diverse backgrounds, lives and belief systems can come together and get along.
Did we all agree on everything – ABSOLUTELY NOT.
But were we able to be civil, respectful and kind?
We were able to talk, to laugh, to joke, to look for and find the commonalities and connect as people, as individuals and as pieces of a larger group – a human group. We were able to find common ground and move forward from there.
And because of that, we were truly able to reach across whatever aisles society had put between us. We were able to open our hearts and minds and listen to the other sides. We were able to learn, to bend, to come together.
In the end, we were able to walk away with the understanding that at our core – we all want the same things.
We all want to love and be loved. We all want to live in fearless freedom – freedom to be ourselves without hurting others and without being harmed in return. We all want to be accepted as we are.
I had begun to think this was a utopian pipe dream. I had begun to fall victim to the idea that in attempting to raise everyone up, we are really just sinking to the level of the “lowest common denominator.” As if there is such a thing. As if there are really people with no worth or value.
But this past weekend, I saw the truth. I lived it.
When we make everyone equal, when we accept everyone as human with the same rights, responsibilities and privileges as ourselves – we all rise together and create something that is so much stronger, better and more powerful than we could ever be alone.
These are just fancy words for equality.
For the freedom to be ourselves.
Loud and proud.