|“Ryan is a 32-year-old gay, White, Jewish American man who has been working as a college administrator…he sometimes feels uncomfortable with the types of homophobic language and behaviors that he notices in the office.
Sometimes coworkers will say things like “That’s so gay” when talking about something that is embarrassing or appalling. Other times, coworkers will assume that Ryan is heterosexual and ask him whether he has a girlfriend or if they can set him up on a date with their female friend or family member.
Ryan is upset with the entire situation and decides that he wants to address this issue. He schedules an appointment with the provost of the university (a white heterosexual woman)… When talking to the provost, Ryan is told that he ‘shouldn’t let things like that bother him’ and that he ‘should try not to be so sensitive.’”
-Example of a microaggression from That’s So Gay!, by Kevin Nadal
By now, many of you might have heard the term ‘microaggression’, but you might not know exactly what is meant by it, or what the big deal is- I mean, it has the word “micro” in it, how bad can it be?
And many times, some words feel like a part of our vocabulary and their discriminatory origin is often not thought about. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1990s, words like ‘gypped’ and ‘retarded’ (which, I accidentally said the other day when referring to my poor iPhone skills!), became a part of my vernacular, a part that I am not proud of, but try to be aware of.
And why do I do this? Why should we care? Well… who likes being negatively stereotyped?!
More importantly, while some microaggressions can seem innocent enough (and maybe some are even said without a malicious intent), research continues to show that they have a negative impact on mental health, general healthcare accessibility, and overall wellbeing.
To further examine the impact of microaggressions, GaySocialites.com was lucky enough to have a sit down with psychologist, activist, author, and microaggression researcher, Dr. Kevin Nadal. Kevin talks to us about the impact of microaggressions, his own research, and The Center for LGBTQ Studies, located right here in NYC!