I Blog To Make a Difference

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I know that, a lot of times, my blog is ZFBlogosquarenot received well. Some might see my bitingly tenacious rationality as occasionally disrespectful, unwelcoming, or not very student-affairsy. Believe it or not, I have student affairs in mind most of the times that I blog (though how I write here and how I would interact with a student would be generally quite different). Student affairs seems to be nothing but supportive about spirituality while ignorant and silent on atheist students and identities, so I try to be the opposite: challenging of spirituality and very open about atheism. I also think for as welcoming a field as we have for LGBT professionals, we are generally weak when it comes to speaking out. Queer equality is a civil rights movement that isn’t over yet, and I worry that those in the field who don’t work with LGBT affairs on a regular basis have a limited appreciation for how important that movement is for our students.

But more than anything, I blog to make a difference. I want to write things that will make people think, and then I hope that they respond so that the dialogue allows us all to grow. As someone willing to go there with challenging issues, I feel I have a responsibility to actually go there. Simply seeing how many hits I have does not help me to understand how people are reacting, but I hope they’re at least thinking about what I offer.

Every once in a while, though, I will receive some feedback that makes it all worthwhile, and today was one of those days.

Last month, I created a small scandal by my playful jab at Rainn Wilson when I decided to stop following him on Twitter. One of the replies I got that I thought was pretty disrespectful was Befralee’s:

Befralee @rainnwilson Maybe if @zackford gets out more he’ll realize he doesn’t have to proclaim gayness like he’s at the first pride parade.

I called it out as homophobic in my blog post, which led to an exchange of a few comments. In Befralee’s follow-up, she spoke of concern for her nephew who was struggling with coming out. She wrote:

By proclaiming in your bio that the very first thing we should know about you is the fact that you are gay, you are inferring that being gay is different. And the message you are sending to my nephew, and to others in the same situation, is that he can’t be normal if he is gay. How is that message helping anyone?

Will and I both responded explaining that we had concerns that she was in fact the one sending the message of “wrong,” as opposed to a message of love and admiration. At the time there was no follow-up response from her… until today.

I encourage you to read Befralee’s full comment as it’s quite heartfelt and touching, but I’ll just post an excerpt here:

Of course I knew there was small minded people making ignorant comments and smart-asses who think their jokes are funny but I did not see the depth of the prejudice and inequality that the LGBT community experiences until communicating with you opened my eyes. And I thank you for that.

Befralee, I thank you for your amazing response. I am utterly delighted by your nephew’s development and confidence and I wish you the best for you and all of your family. (And yes, I totally agree that we should allow people to come out on their own terms, but we can lay a red carpet out for when they do.) Your compassion and support are incredibly meaningful to me and to all of those out there who face discrimination in their everyday lives.

That’s why I blog. That’s why I teach. That’s why I program. That’s why I advocate. That’s why I march. That’s why I’m in the field of student affairs.

We learn so much when we hold each other accountable and engage in real dialogue, and that’s why I write what I write. I blog to make a difference.

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