Yesterday, on March 9th, the last research meeting which I would attend took place. I was privileged to have the opportunity to participate in research under Tara Golstein and Pamela Baer and alongside an excellent and diverse team of colleagues, including graduate students, fellow undergrads, and even an OISE librarian! I would like to take a moment to extend my thanks to all my colleagues and the ROP299 program that made such an excellent and helpful experience possible, and look forward to future opportunities.
Participating in this project, I learned a great many things. How to transcribe; exactly how detailed and meticulous the research process is, and just how many things have to be considered even before a project can begin; how to carry out qualitative research, and how to hone my analysis skills. My perhaps greatest takeaway, however, was connecting to the 'real-life' effects that so many theoretical axes of oppression have. So often in my academic work, I had approached oppression from an activist perspective; words like 'intersectionality' were purely theoretical, mere vocabulary to use to educate others. I had read and understood great advocates, those with an extensive educational background in the topics they spoke on. But I had never had the opportunity to connect with people beyond that; all of these concepts were real, but still somehow far away.
In the LGBTQ Families in Schools project, my work consisted often of transcribing and analyzing the interviews of members of LGBTQ families. I did not approach these people as an activist; I did not approach these interviews as particular activism, but rather from a place of people recounting things on a simpler, yet still heavily nuanced level. The interviewees were simply trying to live their life and reporting back the challenges they had faced doing so as a result of systemic oppression and invisibility. This is not to say that they made no 'intelligent' commentary, or that any complexity was lost; simply that I saw the concepts I had so often spoken about in a theoretical and detached way come to life in a frank, tangible manner. I was reminded of the 'why' of activism, as well as the 'who' and the 'what' of oppression in general, and I feel as though this experience has given me new purpose and meaning in pursuing equity as an academic endeavour. I hope I can continue along the road of research with these perspectives in mind, and feel grateful to have gained these insights.