How does marginalization affect people?
Rachele Manett asks herself this question regularly in her work as a peer educator with Dal’s Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) office and in her research as a graduate student.
It’s also a question she’s grappled with on a personal level, having come out as queer in her early 20s while an undergraduate at Dal.
Living with a group of other students at the time, all of whom identified as straight, she remembers one night suggesting the group go out to an inclusive 2SLGBTQ+ bar as an alternative to their usual hangouts. When her friends bailed, saying “oh, it’s not really our scene,” she felt frustrated by the double standard.
“I didn’t realize how badly I needed community until I recognized that I didn’t have it,” says Rachele, now a master’s student in the Leisure Studies program at Dal.
Thankfully, she had already begun to seek out contacts in the Halifax queer community over the previous year as she prepared to tell family, friends and others back home in the Toronto suburb of Vaughn about her sexuality.
Making things happen
As time passed and friends moved away, Rachele felt compelled to take a more active role in the 2SLGBTQ+ community both for herself and for others.
“I was finding that if things were going to happen, I felt like I had to make them happen,” she says.
She joined DalOUT, the student-run society for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ communities, first as secretary and then president. And around the same time, she was hired by HRES as a part-time peer educator. In that role, she has worked hard to advance training and other initiatives aimed at creating safer spaces for different equity-seeking groups.
Noticing gaps between different campus groups, she spearheaded the development of Collaborative+ — an HRES-run collective supporting groups doing work with 2SLGBTQ+ communities on campus. By allowing for the better coordination of efforts and pooling of resources, the initiative has laid some groundwork for the creation of a more cohesive approach to support, advocacy and education.
She is currently developing an online module on anti-oppression open to students, faculty and staff expected to be ready in time for back to school. She says additional materials are in the works, specifically as they pertain to education about queer- and trans-related issues.
A focus on intersectionality
Rachele has also been an active member of the Dal Pride Week committee, organizing campus events and initiatives with a focus on intersectionality: how differently identities overlap and intersect.
Her research interests lie in inclusive, pleasure-based sexuality education with a focus on disability, a topic that also sees her drawing on intersectionality — a concept that she herself understands as a queer individual from a Jewish background.
“People come with their own identities. If someone is a person of colour, that doesn’t leave them just because they’re in a queer space,” she says.
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