603 Stories June Edition Part 1 – 2021

Part 1:

JB: The views and opinions expressed in the 603 Stories podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of NAMI New Hampshire or the organization’s funders. All individuals and personal experiences are different please connect with your primary care provider or mental health professional to seek advice regarding any condition you may experience. NAMI New Hampshire does not endorse or advise specific treatments. For 24/7 crisis help contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text NAMI to the crisis text line at 741-741 or call 911.

Welcome to the 603 Stories podcast, a monthly mental health podcast, made by young adults, for young adults. Where we share stories, make connections and find hope. Any ads throughout this podcast are not associated with 603 Stories or the 603 Stories podcast. There will be sensitive subjects discussed during this podcast, should you need them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 or you can text the crisis text line by texting 741-741.

Heather: hello my name is Heather Morris

Jace: and I’m Jace Troie

Heather: and this is 603 Stories

Jace: Before we begin we would like to just remind everyone that Heather and I are not mental health professionals. We are just too young adults who are passionate about mental wellness.

Heather: Alright and on this episode we are going to be diving into lgbtq+ topics for pride month and we have our friends Julels Goode here with us.

Jules: hello!

Jace: So, Jules, let’s start off by asking you a little bit about who you are and what you do, especially regarding the LGBT community and organizing.

Jules: Yeah! So, hello, I’m Jules Goode, I use they/ them pronouns, I identify as a queer non-binary person. Most of my, I guess reputation in organizing is actually in the disability/ justice world. So I am a deaf and multiply disabled person but, there is a lot of crossover between the disability world and the lgbtq+ world and so I try to kind of have my fingers in both haha at all times. It’s just a really great kind of crossover of community and I love being involved.

Jace: So, what inspired you to get involved with advocacy in the first place?

Jules: So, about halfway through college I, long story short, figured out that I was losing my hearing and went to an audiologist and they were like you’re actually like 50% deaf and I was like cool and they were like and you have a progressive hearing loss and I was like double cool. Then I developed some other happy-fun-time-chronic-illness stuff, all this to say that I quickly kind of had to realize that the world is not super accessible a lot and in order to change that we have to do a lot of self-advocacy as disabled people but, also community advocacy. There’s you know, as a queer and non-binary person also kind of doing that constant self-advocacy of having to explain that like yes they/them pronouns are real and like yes don’t call me or woman. So, I feel like it’s kind of just a combination of my own personal experiences and also realizing along with that, that as a white person from a middle-class background I’m also incredibly privileged and so any issues that I’m facing our only magnified by people who are more multiply marginalized. That’s really what has inspired me to do this work to you know, advocate for my community in terms of the privileges that I don’t have and to use the privileges I do have to help those who are in a more difficult situation or additionally difficult situations.

Heather: Awesome, thank you, and could you explain a little bit, how did you actually get to the point of organizing? How did you dive into that world?

Jules: Yeah, that’s a great question because I feel like a lot of people see organizers and  they’re just like ‘oh, they just like stood out on the street corner with a sign one day and then they were an organizer’ but that’s not really how it works. So, I would say my “organizing” is a little different then traditional political organizing. I do a lot of the same policy advocacy, being super loud, showing up at protests and all that stuff. But, I also do a lot of behind-the-scenes work in terms of just helping organizations and people make their practices and processes and content more accessible and more inclusive. It’s a little bit different than the traditional organizing rout, but the way that I got here was actually I was always really curious about accessibility and just knew that there was a real wealth of knowledge out there in the world from people’s own lived experiences and expertise about what makes various situations accessible to various people. So, I started kinda just collecting that information in a spreadsheet and waited for an opportunity to use it. Then that opportunity came last summer, when we were starting to have a lot of BLM protests and rallies in the area and I was noticing that a lot of them were not accessible and I was like wow that’s a bummer because there’s a lot of disabled people who really are passionate about this and want to get involved. I started kind of using that information to throw together some trainings and started training the, I think the first folks I trained were New Hampshire Youth Movement who I like owe so much to in terms of just like sharing knowledge and expertise with me and then started training the BLM chapters themselves, andthen through word of mouth, they liked what I was doing and so I got connected to the ACLU of New Hampshire and it’s taken off from there. So, it kind of just started with this one idea of being like we need to have accessibility in our social justice spaces and then it just kind of continued going from there.

Heather: Now is this something you do professionally or is it more of a passion project, what does that look like?

Jules: So, I have a business called Neighborhood Access. We are an LLC and we recently, not to get too technical, but we recently got fiscal sponsorship, which basically means that we have a portion of our operations that act like a 501 c 3 nonprofit. So, we are kind of a fun little hybrid. So, on the business side we do consulting so, we work it like an hourly rate, sliding scale, with organizations to help them make their practices and processes more accessible and then on the non-profit side we do a lot of advocacy, policy work. I have my Masters in public policy so I’m a huge nerd about that stuff. So, always kind of working on that, the kind of advocacy side being a huge pain in the side to the House of Representatives throughout this legislative session and generally just being all up in everybody’s inbox telling them what they need to do in order to better serve the disabled and queer communities in our state.

Jace: So, could we ask you a little bit about the policies that you’ve been working on recently?

Jules: Yeah!… Oh!

Jace: So, which house bills have you been involved with?

Jules: I’m so sorry, I was like, yes! So, the main, (pause for laughter) the main bill that I worked on was actually HB 216 which was related to remote access. Essentially what has happened is there was a temporary order to allow remote access to house and other like, kind of, state-level committee meetings and such and that was really great because it allows people to testify from home on Zoom. Which is not only great, you know, for folks who live far away and maybe don’t have the capacity to just like take off from work and drive to Concord whenever they want or people who live way up North and it’s snowing through the majority of the session, it’s not safe to drive here, and it’s also really helpful for folks with disabilities, a lot of us don’t drive, a lot of people have difficult situations related to transportation. For myself I have found remote access to be way more accessible because I can coordinate my own either transcription for captioning or dial-in an interpreter to the sessions where as going in person and trying to coordinate that requires me to talk to like three different people who may or may not actually accommodate my request. So, it’s been a really great option for folks, but unfortunately, it was only a temporary thing because of COVID and so this bill, HB 216, was meant to extend remote access indefinitely going forward so that it was always an option and unfortunately did not pass and now we’re in a situation where there’s a bunch of, well a pretty interesting legal battle going on with some disabled Reps’ actually who wanted, or who needed remote access to the house sessions because it’s unsafe for them to be in a room with 400 other people, 200 of them who may or may not believe that COVID exists. You know, it is, it has been really interesting to watch it all unfold. So, that’s one kind of thingon more of the disability side and then HB 544 the devisive of concepts bill, which we know has been kind of incorporated into the budget unfortunately which presents a whole other layer of complication have been trying to do some work around that, interestingly, when the bill was originally introduced it was you know only pertaining to what they call devisive concepts around race and sex and gender and so now that it’s been incorporated into the budged it’s specifically mentioned that we are not supposed to talk about any forms of discrimination. So, that includes ableism, um, you know, that includes all of the other ‘isms” so, it’s actually gotten worse as time has gone on and it’s been incorporated into the budget and so I have worked a lot with New Hampshire Youth Movement and just kind of all of the other progressive orgs’ in the State trying to support any actions that they were doing. Wrote some letters to the editor, wrote some op-eds just kind of trying to get the word out about how harmful this bill really is and how much important education it would take away from from schools and from professional development programs. Because you know the way I see it, New Hampshire is such a small state with not a lot of diversity and the diversity that we do have is dwindling because of bills like this and our government constantly talks about how much they would like more young people to move here and how they would like New Hampshire to become this sprawling you know business capital generating place and that’s not going to happen the more we continue to close people out with terrible policy like this.

Jace: Could you give us just a little bit of history on the divisive concepts bill and just kind of what that means? I’m sure some of our listeners aren’t quite sure what it is or why it’s important.

Jules: Absolutely! And let me just say that I am not a lawyer or anything, so, you know,  I’m coming at this as like an individual but from what I studied and I know about the bill, in the original bill it basically said that any organization that receives any sort of funding from the state, or contracts with people who receive funding from the state, which widens the pool even more, the biggest target of that really is schools, public schools. And it prevents teachers or guest speakers, or really whoever from talking about what they call divisive concepts. What they are calling divisive concepts is basically just acknowledging that racism and sexism exist and have existed throughout our history both in the United States and New Hampshire. It prevents, it basically forces educators to block out a ton of our history because we don’t whoever you know the people behind this bill don’t want to continue owning up the fact that white supremacy has been a huge part of our history in New Hampshire and that unfortunately it continues to be alive and well here. So that’s kind of the main crux of the bill. There is a whole list of things that they consider divisive concepts, but they are all related to, you know, discussing the pervasiveness of sexism and racism in New Hampshire and in the United States.

Jace: Okay so, Jules, how has being part of the lgbtq + Community impacted the work that you do currently?

Jules: Yeah so, I feel like part of being queer and disabled but I’ll focus on the queer part for now is just being used to being a weirdo and I think it’s so important to embrace being a weirdo when you’re doing this type of like what I hope is bold organizing because you really have to be comfortable with sticking your neck out there and and being willing to be wrong often and being willing to like make a fool of yourself and I think Growing Up, I grew up mostly in Arizona in a really really conservative area where it was not cool for anybody to be coming out and I didn’t come out until College really but I had already moved but I just remember the kid knowing that I was different and that I was you know thinking about gender and sexuality to whatever extent you do as a youth in a way that was different from a lot of my peers and so it kind of got me used to, and also just being like neurodivergent and just being a strange person in general, got me really used to being comfortable with being kind of the odd one out and I think what makes our community so powerful is that we are a collection, a united front, of people who have been on the fringes their entire lives and so we’re all people who are in use to in some capacity being brave or having to be okay with being different and when we come together and share that braveness and that you know that just that sense that we are doing something different than everybody else it it makes us a lot more likely to embrace, you know, these kind of progressive values and make a positive impact.

Heather: Sorry I’m buffering. Yeah, I just want to reflect really quick on you know also gender-nonconforming person who grew up, I mean I grew up in New Hampshire but in a more conservative family for sure and I think like you definitely do have to kind of get used to being uncomfortable or feeling like shifted to the side of a bit and then you know as your kind of coming out, coming to terms with your identity, coming to understand yourself more, because you know for me the biggest issue was like lack of language. Not that I didn’t know that something was not what it was but that I just really lacked the vocabulary to be like yep that’s it.

Jules: Same! Yes..

Heather: Also chronically ill, you know, I’ve struggled with many, many variations of physical and mental illnesses. So like constantly explaining yourself like ‘yeah, no, I can’t do that, that’s not going to happen, no I can’t eat that’, you know like and having to do the like ‘well why?’ Or like what is that or what what are you or who are you or like just like the tie-in of constantly constantly constantly having to explain your existence to others whether it is about Identity or illnesses or accommodations that are necessary. Like either you kind of end up being like being quiet and sitting on the sidelines or having to be your own advocate all the time.

Jules: Yeah you learn to be basically a professional disabled person or professional queer person and I think that’s also been integral to to my work. Yeah like you doing that explaining over and over again as much as it’s a pain it does make you really good at like getting your pitch solid and so you can apply that to other things as well. Yeah, yeah, I totally get where you are coming from.

Heather: I recently had someone tell me that I was very determined because a lot of what I say is very repetitive but it’s because of lack of movement. Like yes I’m going to continue bringing this up, not because I’m necessarily stubborn or you know whatever else but because there hasn’t been any change.

Jules: Right, you’ve given me no choice.

Heather: Like, I’m sure that you’re tired of hearing this-

Jules: Too bad!

Heather: but that’s not going to make me stop.

Jace: There’s a reason queer and disabled people make great slam poets and it’s because we’ve spent so long crafting our words.

Jules: Yes that’s so true and to go back on what you were saying, Heather, like the importance of having the language to describe this stuff is crucial. I truly did not… I had never heard the word non-binary until like-

Heather: College for me.

Jules: A few years ago maybe. Then I was like “oh no… is that me?” and then I was like “YES, that is me!” I understand now and I mean it’s very similar with, with disability and stuff, to like… there’s so much that I wouldn’t know. I’m like terminally online and very much so in the disabled twittersphere and that is like such a crucial community for, like, finding that shared language in those, you know, the concept of, not to get too much into it but, you know spoons and Spoon Theory. Look up spoon theory if you’re not familiar. Very much a chronic illness invention so yeah it’s it’s all it’s all really it’s it’s so critical to to be able to find community and find shared language through that.

Heather: I think a lot of that ties back into, I can’t remember the name of the bill but like the divisive-

Jules: 544

Heather: yeah, lack of representation in schools, organizations, nonprofits, whatever that might be getting federal or state funding locking it in so that you can’t discuss these topics is only going to increase these issues of you know, lack of representation, lack of language, and kind of putting folks, you know, perpetuating the cycle of folks like us who, you know, who though we’re incredible, didn’t find what we needed until college or later.

Jules: Yeah, yeah and yeah totally agreed, Totally agreed.

Jace: My question builds right off of that, Jules, a minute ago you said “oh no, is that me” and I would love for you to expand on that because this is exactly what Heather is talking about right here with this device of concepts Bill. We are brushing the opportunity to educate kids about who they could potentially be and leaving them to feel this fear of oh no I don’t fit in, I’m different, I’m divergent, right? And so, how have you taken that ‘oh, no is that me?’ into advocacy, into politics?

Jules: YAY, that’s me!” haha. Yeah that’s a great question. So, oh my gosh so much of it is, like, reversing the conditioning of growing up in such a conservative place and I have to say, like, I mean I was very, and I continue to be very lucky that my immediate family is like supportive and you know it’s taken them some time to kind of to learn and come around to a lot of these concepts that are new for them but, on the whole they’ve been very… like once they understand what’s going on they’re like ‘aw cool’ and so I don’t know why I made my family sound like Owen Wilson there.. But, but that’s what they sound like apparently.

Heather: Wait, you’re not related to Owen Wilson?

Jules: Wow! But, so, yeah I basically was… the first feeling that I had growing up and realizing that I was queer was like oh, this is going to make my life difficult and that was kind of the message that was being reinforced by everyone around me because I was watching my friends who were coming out being disowned by their families, or not having access to, you know, the resources they needed to transition or to fully, you know, live authentically as themselves. So, it was always something that was associated with fear rather than pride and then I think what really the turnaround was for me was seeing other queer people just like, out in the world doing their thing and it comes back to that representation piece. like if I hadn’t seen, like, queer leaders and been reading these like stories by queer people and taking in all this beautiful art you know made by our community, I would not have known at all that this is like actually like, you know, it’s not a bad thing, it’s not a good thing, it’s like a neutral thing. It’s a part of who you are and you can be proud of that. And one thing in particular that I will shoutout, for all you questioning teens out there; there’s a great album by Joanna Sternberg, who is a non-binary artist, the album is called “Then I Try Some More” and you know this is going to sound like super literal but literally the stanza of that song that made me realize that I was non-binary it just says “…never felt that I was a lady, never felt like a man, you’re not the first to say I’m crazy, how could you understand…” and I was like ‘oh! That’s me!’ and so, like, that representation was so critical and having somebody like, you know, out there making art and being so vulnerable and so open about their own experience was really what I think made that mental shift happen for me.

Jace: That’s incredible. So, how has being part of the lgbtq + community supported your mental health? I feel like we always hear a lot about the negatives and the down side, like you said, you were hearing about your friends being disowned or not having money to transition but, there’s so many positives and there’s so many silver linings to being part of the lgbtq community and I would love to get a little bit more insight.

Jules: Yeah, I mean I feel like the best example, I’m like coming, coming fresh off of being at Queen City Pride in Manchester last weekend and I’m like not like a super like warm and fuzzy, sappy person but, I was standing there like a single tear coming down me face. Watching all of these like young like teens walking around with their pride flags and like even young kids like walking around pride with their parents and like, I-I think the world is becoming more accepting. As much as there’s still a lot that is wrong there’s also so much more that’s going right even from when you know we were kids and so that’s not only a glimmer of hope that I try to hold onto but, yeah, I think, you know, it’s identifying as part of the lgbtq + community, and I use quuer as an umbrella term, I know not everybody does but that’s just that’s my like catch all, is… it’s not just about gender sexuality right? It’s having this shared experience like we were talking about before, of kind of being, like, on the fringes, and of knowing that you’re different and so it, it comes with a lot of connotations beyond just like, what’s in the dictionary definition of being part of that community and I think that is that has been such a saving grace for me you know. Growing up and figuring out who I am is just like talking to other queer people, a lot of whom are, like, a couple years older than me, like, maybe have it figured out a little bit more. That mentorship has been such an important aspect for me, I mean honestly, I have to say the other person you’ll be chatting with on this two-parter series or whatever, however you’re organizing it, Linds, has been a huge role model to me and really helped me be able to, you know, kind of be open about my identity in the world of New Hampshire politics and same with Polana Belcon, who’s another incredible trans activist. Like the two of them really just showed me that like, I can, like be authentically who I am and do this work. You know, it doesn’t diminish or like I don’t know tarnish anything that I’m doing and and people will still take me seriously. I just have to be like authentically myself. So, like the two of them are just like the best, yeah I think that’s that’s really beautiful thing and as we see more generations and even like people with just like a couple of years of an age gap between them being a longer timeline of people who are openly queer, I’m hoping that will see kind of that mentorship and that intergenerational support continue. Because I feel like, you know, the older folks have so much to learn from, you know, the younger folks who are coming up with this new vocabulary and figuring all this new stuff out and and doing all this really amazing intersectional work, kind of across social justice movements and, of course, the young folks have a lot to learn from the older folks about the history of our movement, kind of how we have organized over time and how to safely and positively and authentically be yourself out in the world. So, I think it’s just a I like I think the best thing that’s happened to me as I’ve grown up is that I’ve stopped associating like the phrase LGBTQ+ with this, like scary, unknown thing and started associating it with like these are my people, this is my community, it makes me so happy and so proud.

Heather: I love to hear that and I relate to so much of it. And especially, I work with a lot a lot of young folks who don’t really feel like they’re being heard a lot of the times or like their opinions are valued and I just I just want to say I really appreciate, you know, you mentioning that like, yes, we have a lot to learn from younger folks. There’s there’s so many ways that we can intertwine the generations and continue to grow together. You know it’s not just a one-sided, like, mentorship.Sorry, I just want to say I appreciate that.

Jules: Yeah, thank you, it’s, it’s so true and and it’s that intergenerational learning is so important.

Jace: So, to wrap things up… could you just tell us one thing that has been like the biggest takeaway from your community organizing? Like if you could share one thing with the young folks in New Hampshire what would you want them to know?

Jules: Have a spreadsheet of your representatives email addresses saved to your computer at all times [laughter], that’s one, no. I think, you know, the most important thing that I can impart, and you know I’m still like I’m by no means like a seasoned organizer I’m still very much learning, I’m learning everyday, I’m learning from people who are younger than me everyday and so, I guess the most important thing I can say is to always be open to learning. You are never going to know everything because the world around us is constantly changing. People’s needs are changing, the movements are changing. What we are demanding from our government and from the people who represent us is changing and and all of that is to say that you know you’re never going to have all of the answers and so the two most critical parts of being a good organizer I think are one, knowing where to find information. Not necessarily knowing all the information but knowing how to do like a good Google search and I’m kind of like getting those research skills, which just takes time and practice to develop that. And the other thing is just, you know, always being willing to say ‘oh, yeah, you know what, I’m wrong’ and being wrong doesn’t mean that you’re stupid, it doesn’t mean that you’re less than, it doesn’t mean that you’re like a bad person, it means you were lacking a piece of information. Be willing to learn that and to internalize it and to, you know, accept it with grace. I would say those are the the most important things that I’ve learned thus far.

Jace: Well thank you Jules for joining us today. It was absolutely wonderful to talk to you and you gave us a lot of really great Insight. Thank you for being so involved in the community and I hope we get to see you around in the future.

Jules: Yes! Thank you so much for having me, this was so much fun! I’m such a fan of this podcast and I can’t wait to listen to all of the other wonderful people that you have on. Heather: Awesome thank you.