If you have yet to be persuaded to watch Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, go for it. You will learn a lot about representation and inclusion, whilst also being entertained – a killer combo. Our household finished the 6 seasons and then watched a documentary about the show’s crazy global success, from which I learned 3 valuable lessons about inclusion and belonging.
Lesson 1: Being gay does not always need to be explained. We are who we are.
David, one of the main characters, is queer, yet the character is written / developed without ever “explaining” themselves, and their life is never challenged as being “other”. This is incredibly rare – gay characters are always gay characters! The closest David ever gets to discussing his sexuality is when he describes liking the wine and not the label. Genius.
Imagine the cost and energy exerted if you have to continually explain yourself! Giving someone the space to just be, without explanation, allows them to flourish in themselves, in their work, in their community, or in the entertaining story on screen.
Lesson 2: An LGBTQ+ life is normal. It can be just like other lives…
“When you see gay relationships on screen, they are often portrayed through a lens of tragedy or strife – so here we got to see ourselves as just being in love and joyful. It was a watershed moment…” says one commentator.
Think about that for a moment: that the standard context for LGBTQ+ representation is ALWAYS hardship and other. Consider how difficult it is therefore to achieve a sense of belonging, of home, in any environment. Schitt’s Creek delights partly because that is available to David. He deserves it because of who he is, independent of how he orients.
Lesson 3: No-one needs to go to “Diversity School” – just continue on your lifelong growth journey…
Daniel Levy hits on something that really matters when we are trying to talk about diversity and inclusion.
“We’re not teaching them a lesson, we’re showing them how life can be like…I never learn when I think I’m being taught a lesson….”
When we develop DIBs (diversity, inclusion, belonging) “training” we should hold that thought. We are not trying to teach you a lesson. We are all smart people, able to develop ourselves in a new direction. Growth mindset, right? We just need to converse more about what it means to be a human being, with equity and opportunity in mind.
- We need to see other people as just fine the way they are. (This is belonging).
- We need to experience (all) others as value add, as culture add, not as hard work. (This is inclusion).
- And we need to create the opportunity to see difference as opportunity. (This is diversity).
What are the conversations we need to have to get us there? What reading, self-reflection, experiences will support your growth, faster, further? That is the “training” we need.
Happy PRIDE Month, everyone.
This Much We Know.