A few quick observations/insights from my first night at VONA:
1. My workshop leader is intense and fierce. Imagine an attractive woman able to fill the eyes of 10 20-to-40-somethings with terror as she merely asks questions while simultaneously breastfeeding her child.
2. I think the stat I heard several months ago on Strange Fruit about ethnic minorities being more likely than whites to identify as LGBT is true, but I think the researchers made a mistake in not including the word “queer” in their study. I am at a workshop where there are NO people who identify as white, even if they look white, and I lost count of how many times I heard people in this room full of hyphenated nationalities and ethnic identities call themselves “queer.”
3. I feel like not being hyphenated or LGBTQ or dressing funky kind of makes me different in this group.
4. There is all kinds of hair up in here. I really should have taken a picture at orientation. Chile…
5. I’m convinced my southern existence will put me back on the unique side. I’m the lone GRITS in my group. Out of 10 people, six are from or presently live in the Bay Area, where the workshop is being held. The remaining four are from the East Coast or Canada. I think all were surprised to hear that not only was I raised in the South, but I still live there. One of my classmates asked if I was experiencing culture shock. “I’m from Kentucky, but I lived in St. Louis and Los Angeles for school, this is my third time in the Bay Area, and my first visit here lasted 3 months,” is a rather long answer to “Where are you from?” so I don’t include it. Also, I work in social justice. My field attracts all kinds, even when the work is in Kentucky, but most people don’t think of the South that way.