Outspoken: Allison Bland

Allisons search for identity continues while she becomes connected to like-minded activists

BY pdimaso

May 25 2005 11:00 PM ET

Searching for an
identity is my form of activism. I have long wanted to
understand my blackness, my femininity, my masculinity, and
my sexuality—all the things that make up me.
This identity has been hard to find at my small,
conservative private high school in Virginia. While I
was student council association president my senior
year, I made presentations on antioppression activism
to the student body, but that didn’t help me discover
who I was. Before that I started a hip-hop Web site
for LGBT youth of color. While I was looking for
resources for it online, I found the Gay, Lesbian, and
Straight Education Network and applied for its Jump-Start
Leadership Team. I went to a big training in
Washington, D.C., last summer, where I was connected
to a network of straight allies and queer students who also
felt finding their identity was important.
But I still questioned my blackness. So I
decided that I should consider going to a historically
black college or university. I did a research project
on these colleges. In a survey I dubbed “Movement in
Black: A Survey on LGBT Students at Your School
” after black lesbian poet Pat Parker, I asked
admissions directors if their schools had student clubs,
a recognized coming-out day, antiharassment policies,
resources available in the library, queer speakers,
and more. I was encouraged when college presidents,
provosts, and professors at about half of the 70 schools I
contacted were willing to speak to me. Some even shared
their own experiences as LGB students of color. It was amazing.
For many reasons, I ultimately chose to attend
Wellesley College, an all-women’s school
outside of Boston. This fall I plan to continue my
search for identity while becoming connected to like-minded
activists.

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