Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Communication Can Reach the Heart

Sarah Carawan
by Sarah Carawan, North Carolina 

I traveled from Asheville to attend the Communicating Powerfully & ReVisioning Gender weekend at YES Institute recently, and am still reeling from the outpouring of love and commitment of the people I met.

After my marriage and the birth of my daughter, I was floored when I fell in love with a woman. There have been many ups and downs in the 35 years since I identified with the label “gay.” I now realize after being at YES Institute, that I have only just begin my own education on gender and orientation and see the power in examining my experience beyond labels.

In the Gender & Orientation Series™, I began to see the feminine / masculine binary concept is impressed upon us all throughout our lives. After nearly 60 years, I realized for the first time that my parents didn’t enforce narrow gender expectations on me. At home growing up, I recall I was always more boyish and interested in all things masculine. Thankfully, they let me explore who I was, and after participating in these courses I see this was a real gift.

Watching all the parents with their children, who were in varying stages of coming to terms with their child’s gender or orientation, was very moving. Some days, the course would begin and end with tears.

On the one hand, I didn’t understand the sadness because their intelligent, courageous and amazing children were living and breathing right next to them. Their loss was not a physical one, but rather a loss of expectations set into motion by a concept of body, gender, and orientation that was binary.

Many of these parents began to see that when it comes to gender and orientation for young people this is a conversation about life and death. Before these courses, I used to think un-accepting parents were narrow minded and bad parents. Now, I see nothing but good parents who received bad information. By the end of each day, I saw families become less afraid to allow each other to just be.

Sarah Carawan interacting with Star and Jim at YES Institute. 

There is no place like YES Institute. YES Institute is a beacon in the world for people who are struggling with gender or orientation, sometimes at the cost of their aliveness, or even their very lives. The level of welcoming, depth of knowledge, and outpouring of love I experienced at YES Institute will forever be a part of me. You cannot walk out of YES Institute without feeling bigger on the inside.

YES Institute's signature Communication Solutions™ course is taking place Saturday & Sunday, March 24 & 25 from Noon-6pm each day. Parents, teachers, students and medical doctors are participating in the course, as well as Spanish-language participants (full simultaneous bilingual translation will be provided). Call today to register at 305-663-7195 or email@yesinstitute.org 

Monday, March 12, 2012

In The Lives of Youth

Last week, CBS4 Miami News & Views aired an exceptional 2-part investigative story on homeless gay youth and the process of parental acceptance. While the impact on parents is often great, the consequences of bullying and rejection for young people can also be equally devastating. 

"Creating a Safer World", a mini-documentary produced by In The Life Media, captures the realities of youth impacted by gender and orientation. It also highlights the work of YES Institute and the innovative ways we are working to bring community-wide educational resources on these topics.