It has been pointed out to me that last week I consistently listed the WYNTK as being in 2012, when it is in fact now 2013. I'm still not sure how that happened, it already being 2013 that is.
Nonetheless, here we are: a whole three months into the new century's teenage years. Before you know it the 21st Century will be hiding used tissues and sneaking drinks from Father Time's liquor cabinet (which would be stocked with Early Times Kentucky Whiskey I assume ).
It's a point I had driven home this past weekend. As I mentioned in Friday's WYNTK, I presented two workshops at Hampshire College for the Five College Queer Gender & Sexuality Conference this past weekend. Standing there with my husband, whom I met nearly fifteen years ago on our freshman orientation at that very school, it was hard not to be struck by just how much had changed. The social and political landscape the students who organized and attended the conference have grown up with is already a very different one from what we experienced as children of the Reagan/Clinton era, who entered college in 1998.
Admittedly, the Pioneer Valley has always existed in its own sociopolitical bubble, witness that a vast number of my peers honestly believed Ralph Nader would win the presidential election in 2000. Even taking that into account though, a four hundred person sexuality and gender conference, which this year expanded from one to two days, entirely student created and run, is a remarkable thing, and not something we would have seen in our time as students.
A few years ago at this same conference, I asked a student organizer how accommodating professors are around trans* and genderqueer students at Hampshire. They looked at me a bit oddly and said "well... if a student changes pronouns mid-semester it can take a bit for the professor to get it down, but that's to be expected." When I explained that I was more curious about how the topic gets raised in the first place, and how do the professors handle it, I was told "most professors ask people's name and PGP (preferred gender pronoun) at the beginning of the semester, and that's that." I think they were as surprised by my surprise as I was by their explanation. I had a hard time imagining it being that simple, and they had a hard time imagining it had ever been another way.
When I graduated in 2003, Hampshire didn't even have a queer students' center yet, although throughout the school's life it has always been progressive and queer/GSRM positive. Additionally, during our time there, my partners and I were the only really visible poly folk on campus, while multi-partner relationships and dynamics are now an accepted part of student life. And while we weren't the only kinky folk at Hampshire, I was taken aback when asked on Saturday about teaching workshops for the campus kink/BDSM organization, simply by the fact that it existed.
Obviously Hampshire College and the Five College network in the Amherst/Northampton/Mt. Holyoke area is not representative of the state of colleges or youth across the nation. Nor, being in my way an old fuddy-duddy, am I sure that everything I saw there was for the better (that's a whole other essay). But overall, if what I saw this weekend is a sign of where the world is going as the 21st Century enters its teens, it's going be a damn thrilling ride.
Here's what you need to know today: