What makes a difference?
I’ve been thinking about this topic a great deal as I’ve worked on the literature review for my dissertation and as I’ve started talking with my interview participants.
What is “difference-making”? What counts as creating change?
There is a strong line of thinking that only the people who are politically involved or leading big, visible change movements are participating in activism, or “difference-making,” to put it in a more neutral sense.
The thing is, I don’t actually buy that. It seems like an print concept for a social world.
What I mean is this: we need high visibility organizers, people out in the field, etc. However, there is serious, daily difference-making going on. Daily events that radiate out with consistency.
In this, I’m speaking specifically about LGBT work, but I could be talking about other issues. Apply as you like.
The world is not as LGBT-friendly as it seems in our enclaves. Yes, it truly has gotten better, but I continue to argue that every act we take to be out is one of difference-making. Our Facebook or Twitter or whatever presences that incorporate our terribly mundane or terribly exciting lives as LGBT people are daily, constant decisions to make a difference – individual by individual. Work decisions, social decisions…each one is made, each has ramifications. You don’t come out just once.
But those things count, and they count a lot.
There’s a lot going on in the It Gets Better Project and there’s a lot going on in my interviews. In my opinion, it was the “Come out, come out, wherever you are” of the 21st century.
I want to write more about this. I want to write legions about what I’ve already learned from the amazing people that I’ve talked to, but research isn’t journalism (though sometimes, for gratification’s sake alone, I really wish it was).
I’m going at this with every ounce of my being. I think about it constantly. I think about each of those difference-making decisions I make every day – big and small – and how amazingly important they have been.
I don’t have a scaled up organization under my belt, but I have an army of straight male tech guys who have stepped up to be allies, even writing op/eds for the local paper (you know who you are) about it.
Whatever the outcome, this feels like the work of a lifetime, and I can’t imagine feeling more inspired or driven than I do right now. Interviewing these folks has been a highlight of my entire PhD process, and giving academic amplification to the whys and hows of the IGBP is something I hope I have the skill and savvy to dispense far and wide.
Anyway. That’s all. That’s why I don’t update this blog right now, and won’t for a year. Unless I’m an insomniac and letting my thoughts out…then you’re stuck with me.