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This blog is a hate-free place, dedicated to the spreading of awareness and understanding of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community, their shame experiences and their potential to be resilient. Our goal is to increase your empathy and compassion.

We do not claim to be experts on this topic, however, we recognize the importance of sharing what we can in the hope that at least one person feels compelled to re-evaluate their thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shameful Assumptions

Being raised in a southern, middle class, white, Catholic family with all the views that tag along with that is all I had ever known. Throughout college, I was able to expand my thoughts and ideas and challenged anything I had ever been taught. I thought I was open-minded and knew exactly how the world worked. I thought that I was non-judging (I have my slip-ups) and unassuming. Once I entered the MSW program a year ago, I was definitely proved wrong.

The first few weeks of school I began to connect with one of my classmates. We were becoming friends and would sit next to each other often. One day I saw her texting a lot and looking giddy about the conversation. She was sitting pretty close to me and I thought I could make out the name of the person she was engaging in conversation.

A couple of hours later at lunch, a few new friends sat down to lunch and began diving into the realms of our personal lives. Our conversation ranged from long distance relationships to marriage to our families, and all of us were very animated and engaged, except for one. My same friend, who was texting up a storm earlier, was very quiet during lunch and eventually I came out and asked what guy she had been texting all day. My friends and I sat there when she would not tell us and guessed all the boy names we could until we had no more. Eventually, flushed and anxious, she came out and just told us HER name.

All of us at the table were completely appalled, not at the fact that our friend was a lesbian, but at the assumption we had made about her and her sexuality. I felt like I had been punched in the gut and felt ashamed that I had been so adamant about whom her “boyfriend” was. At that point she had not been ready to tell us, but because of our assumptions she was forced into revealing incredibly personal information to us.

The experience really put into perspective the kind of stereotyping and assumptions I make on a daily basis. My friend looked like me, talked like me, walked like me so I assumed she was straight like me.--Ashley