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I firmly believe creative guilds have the power to change the world and have been doing so since the dawn of time. Quilt guilds, knitting guilds, weaving guilds, and crafting guilds in general have always been a safe-haven for creators to be themselves, get creative, and find meaningful community. Crafting is a great way to decompress, meet new people, form lasting friendships, and find ways to give back to your community. Yet many guilds have no idea how to properly support marginalized members or would be members in their midst.

Fortunately, a lot of crafting and creative guilds these days say they’re looking to prioritize diversity, and especially LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and this is a great first step. But what can your guild do to actually build memberships and support life-long guild bonds beyond its pledge?

As a proud openly gay man who loves to quilt, crochet, weave, and create, I’ll admit; I have never met a guild that fully supports me. I’m not asking for the rainbow carpet treatment; I’m simply asking to express my identity and create with others. I’ve been invited to speak at guilds that, when I arrived, asked me to “tone down the gay,” and not only did that hurt on a personal level, it told me where this guild’s values truly were. If your guild can’t be openly supportive of people like me, you’re actively choosing to welcome the haters and the pearl clutchers at the expense of awesome queer people who just want to craft, make friends, be their authentic selves, and have a good time.

If your guild is serious about truly welcoming members of the LGBTQIA+ community as equals, here are some meaningful steps you can take to do so, because I promise you, there are some very lovely queer people in your community who are dying to be part of an accepting creative group. Wouldn’t you rather have them join, than those who seek to oppress and isolate us?

1. Update Your Bylaws- If your guild hasn’t already done so, update your bylaws to include language that promotes the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ diversity. While you’re at it, make sure it includes racial diversity. This is a great first step that tells the world your guild’s values.

2. Incorporate LGBTQIA+ Nonprofits and Charities in Guild Giving -Many guilds donate to organizations like battered women’s shelters and local food banks. Why not include an LGBTQIA+ nonprofit or two into your annual giving? LGBTQIA+ individuals make up a large percentage of those facing homelessness, hunger, and domestic violence. Find some local or regional organizations making a difference and reach out to them.

3. Remove Official Guild Ties with Charities and Businesses That Foster Hate - This might seem like an obvious choice, but you’d be surprised how many anti-LGBTQIA+ charities and businesses hide in plain sight. Even the best meaning guilds can send the wrong vibes without realizing it.
• Charities: Take a few minutes to study each charity your guild officially works with or gives to and make sure they are not actively against the LGBTQIA+ community.
• Meeting Locations: Does your guild meet in a church? Make sure they’re inclusive toward the LGBTQIA+ community, (AKA, they believe LGBTQIA+ people are fine as they are and not going to Hell).
• Vendors: Is your guild actively buying from and/or encouraging members to shop at stores and businesses that are anti-LGBTQIA? Do a little research before spending your guild’s money. Make sure you’re not supporting businesses that are actively supporting hatred against LGBTQIA+ people. For example Hobby Lobby is owned by David Green, who donates to an organization that is anti-LGBTQIA+.

4. Invite LGBTQIA+ Creators to Speak at Your Guild - There are plenty of successful, fun, LGBTQIA+ creators who would love to speak at your guild. Find some and invite them. It’ll show guild members that you mean what you say about inclusion and acceptance.

5. Include an LGBTQIA+ Reading List on Your Guild Website - Chances are, your guild probably has many LGBTQIA+ allies or would-be allies. Post an LGBTQIA+ friendly suggested reading list in a blog, or elsewhere on your website. This can help would-be allies understand the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, so they can help your guild in being more inclusive.

6. Have a Craft Scholarship Program for New Crafters - A scholarship fund is a great way to create ready-to go “getting started kits” for new members. This is generally a good practice to begin with, but it can be especially helpful for encouraging new LGBTQIA+ members to join, as our community is disproportionately affected by economic inequality. Sometimes simply not having the tools is enough to exclude us from a guild. Don’t let buying a new sewing machine, or the tools to start a craft stop someone from joining.

Partner with your local sewing store, craft store, or sewing machine repair person and ask them to donate used and working sewing machines and supplies. Lend out or give these machines to new guild members. Let your guild know you are looking for supplies, fabric, thread, yarn, etc. and get them involved.

7. Create a Craft Mentorship Program - Crafting, sewing, and making is often something you learned from your mother, or grandmother. Yet, manyLGBTQIA+ individuals have been shunned by their families for simply being who they are. Mentorship can go a long way to helping them connect and learn a new craft.

Create a call-to-action for guild members who want to become mentors to new guild members. This will help not only LGBTQIA+ members, but also members from any marginalized community get into crafting and make meaningful connections.

8. Partner With Local LGBTQIA Organizations to Encourage New Membership - Find local LGBTQIA+ organizations and partner with them. Invite your members to attend their public events and get involved. Make those partnerships visible on your website and public messaging.

9. Celebrate Pride With Your Guild - Make sure your guild is Pride-Positive. This can be as simple as posting positively about Pride on your guild’s Instagram and Facebook, and choosing patterns to showcase from LGBTQIA+ creators.

10. Adopt and Encourage Diverse Group Language - A lot of guilds use the term “ladies” to address their members as a group, and you can see how this automatically isolates everyone who isn’t a lady. Many guilds often also assume that a person’s spouse is a husband, and that everyone has a spouse. Again, this is isolating to people that don’t have this or have a variation of this. Here are some quick ways to adjust how you and your guild address itself.
• Say “everyone” when addressing the crowd, instead of “ladies” • Say “spouse or partner” instead of husband • Say “creators” or “people” when talking about your members as a group, instead of “ladies.”

Remember, being an LGBTQIA+ inclusive guild isn’t political; it’s just the right thing to do. If your guild truly exists to connect people and help them express themselves and grow, then get to it; bring in all the diversity because having many voices makes your guild stronger. Being LGBTQIA+ positive tells members of your guild that you value them as people, you respect who they are, and you side with them when so much of the world seeks to destroy them.

About the Author

Mathew Boudreaux, AKA Mister Domestic, is a social crafting powerhouse on a mission; to build an inclusive community that spreads love and joy through crafting. Although Mathew began sewing at a young age, his parents’ antiquated gender binary expectations discouraged him from fully expressing himself. But in 2013, after their daughter was born, Mathew’s spouse gifted him classes from “Modern Domestic” and it rekindled Mathew’s love of sewing and crafting. Soon Mathew was combining his love of crafting with his Portland State MBA and using the power of social media to create an inclusive brand all his own. Today Mathew is a fabric & pattern designer, sewing instructor, owner of the new online sewing school SEW U, an inspirational speaker, consultant, and global influencer with his TikTok, YouTube & Instagram each set to surpass over 100,000 subscribers this year.
For more about Mathew, visit: https://misterdomestic.com

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

Transgender Sign in Pride Parade



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