First, let me tell you: This semester, a colleague (Dani) and I have been #blessed with the opportunity to create and instruct an Honors colloquium course through the Ball State Honors College. It’s a bit of a unique gem to the Honors curriculum, but the ‘colloquium’ is essentially a class designed around a topic chosen by the instructor(s), and it should get students thinking and discussing critically. Following the passions we shared, Dani and I constructed a course called The Right to Exist: Social Justice Journeys 2001 to Today.
The syllabus revolves around the exploration of the contemporary narratives of individuals belonging to a host of social groups: followers of Islam since 9/11, drag queens hitting the television scene, women fighting to be heard in the workplace, black people waiting for rescue from Katrina. Each week is themed differently, but there are common expectations: honesty, empathy, courage. It has truly been a thing of magic, an inspiration to us both, due in large part to the commitment and courage our students have brought to the table.
This week, we discussed ‘The Road to Marriage Equality,’ a topic characterized by vulnerability and personal experiences. For me, as a gay man who posted his proclamation on the day marriage equality reached the United States, I looked ahead to this class with a kind of wild, nervous energy. Vulnerability, no matter how long we’ve aspired to it, takes courage.
We opened the class with a discussion of Formation, Beyoncé’s own wild declaration that threw open the doors to dialogue from every direction in our nation. Utilizing the lyrics from this song, Dani crafted an activity: Create your own version of the opening, with your roots, what they make you, who you are, a belief, and a strength. And then top it off with ‘and I slay.’
Our students were courageous and excellent, and they truly slayed. Because this particular class revolved around marriage equality, we read over my blog post and discussed the concept of speaking ourselves into existence. We encouraged our students to post their and I slay declarations. So here’s mine:
My dad’s a gentle giant
My mom’s a female president
Put that together and I’m free to be my own damn person
I’m a gay man finding his magic
I believe our stories are worth something
I see the power of the heart within the human
And I slay.