Tonight in our RAPP meeting, we wrote down different social identities and stories related to those identities. We then chose one of those social identities and got into groups with others who wanted to discuss that particular identity. I decided this year that I would choose identities where I receive privilege. I was looking forward to sharing my stories, but I also decided to try and take a more backseat approach and listen, so I didn't get the chance to share my story, which is absolutely okay. Instead, I'm making it a blog entry for any who would like to read it.
When my family first moved to Louisville from Maryland, when I was 12 years old, my parents had just foreclosed on a house and were out of work for a long period. There wasn't a lot of choosiness about where we rented. There was a house that they thought would be a good fit, so my Dad called the landlord to set up a viewing. The landlord, an older gentleman with a thick southern accent, asked my Dad if he was "queer." My Dad told him that he was married to a woman and the landlord said that he asked because the last couple he showed the house to were a gay male couple (likely didn't phrase it that way) and he wasn't going to rent to a gay couple. My Mom couldn't go to the viewing due to work, so my Dad, feeling desperate to make sure nothing limited us from getting to rent this house, and being a bit over-the-top dramatic as a human, took his and my mom's wedding photo to the viewing to "prove" to the landlord that he was not a gay man.
That was our first home in Louisville.
I had totally forgotten about this incident until today. The first identity I had written down was "socio-economic class" and I wrote about my Dad telling me that he went to the Salvation Army to ask for heating assistance because we couldn't afford propane to heat the trailer the four of us were living in when I was a toddler. He said that was when he gave up on pride, because pride doesn't do anything for hypothermia. I was trying to think about other times when I was reminded that there were a lot of options we lacked because of our financial situation and remembered my Dad taking the wedding photo to the viewing.
The thing that was amazing to me about this story is that while it is an example of a lack of class privilege in some regard, it is also an example of how 12-year-old me had a home because my parents were straight. So, it's simultaneously an example of heterosexual-privilege and a lack of class-privilege. And that's something I really love about RAPP: the way it always finds a way to complicate things, which for me makes me feel like I'm gaining better idea of how these very complicated systems work. Whereas I once may have thought that there were some scenarios where a person receives privilege and other scenarios where that person doesn't receive privilege, and there's no overlap between the two, I now realize that both a presence and a lack of privilege can be operating at the same time for the same person. I can say with full sincerity that I look forward to a complicated year with RAPP.