Politics of My Location, Part 2

My adult life experienced the greatest changes in my politics of location. After living in areas that lacked substantial diversity, I moved on my own to Portland, Oregon. Lauded as a city with a large network of GLBT-friendly businesses, entertainment spots, and events, it fine tuned my understandings of the nuances of sexuality and gender. I realized that both exist along a continuum, and rigid compartmentalization of either sexuality or gender is a futile process.

While living there, I did work with a number of political and GLBT advocacy groups, and I found my interest in macro-level policy work. I worked with agencies that dealt with GLBT homelessness, sexual health program geared toward GLBT teens, and social perceptions of GLBT issues. My work with these agencies solidified my desire to do related work, and I realized that in addition to doing GLBT/sexual health advocacy work, I want to be a sex therapist.

That brought me to Indiana University. I am working toward a Major in Social Work and Minors in Gender Studies and Human Sexuality with the goal of getting an MSW and MEd in Human Sexuality. Bloomington, Indiana, certainly has its own politics of location. Indiana University offers a wide variety of classes in the subjects of gender and sexuality, and Bloomington forms a socially liberal bubble that allows its politics of location to vary drastically from towns just 20 minutes away.

I have found Bloomington to be open and accepting, and I have been impressed with the amount of academic options one has in the study of GLBT issues. Even within the Social Work program, there are separate classes for developmental issues in gay, lesbian, and bisexual people and developmental issues in trans people. I appreciated this distinction because I do not believe a single 16-week course can properly discuss the developmental issues and differences in sexuality and gender identity.

The social and political climate of IU and Bloomington is different than many of the surrounding towns, and I have spoken with many of my friends who have said that they feel more comfortable expressing their sexuality or gender identity here than in nearby towns. Bloomington, Indiana, influences one’s politics of location by offering a relatively accepting space for individuals to practice their sexuality and gender identity openly, free of the auspices of stringent gender roles and normative sexual behavior.

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