Community gathers to discuss intergenerational issues

BY BEN MARKS | FEBRUARY 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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It isn’t often you get four generations in the same room.

From senior citizens to seniors in high school, members of the Iowa City LGBTQ community gathered Monday to spark a discussion about intergenerational LGBTQ issues.

Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, covering a span of around four generations.

Kendra Malone, the University of Iowa diversity resources coordinator who created and facilitated the event, said she was very happy with how it went and believed others were, too.

“I think people were excited, really appreciated the opportunity to share their own story, but also learn about the experiences of folks who are in similar age to them, but who are also different,” she said.

City High senior Vicky Hakhamaneshiyan, who attended the meeting along with other members of the Iowa City organization United Action for Youth, said the meeting was very educational.

“What I myself am going through now has been going on for many years,” she said. “People are more understanding no matter their age, and it’s really nice to hear their stories.”

She said she saw definite differences between her story and the stories of older generations.

“They struggled a lot more, and I feel grateful for the generation I was born in, and I feel really blessed,” Hakhamaneshiyan said.

In part, one of the reasons Malone said she believed people were so excited about the talk was the lack of events which specifically involved the LGBTQ community.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for the queer community to get together and talk about issues that we face and how we can support each other across generations, or more broadly,” she said.

This was the first time an intergenerational discussion has been held, and Malone said the reason it was created was because of the continuous need she heard from the community for a conversation between generations.

“I continuously heard this conversations of, ‘We need to talk to each other,’ ” she said. “So the committee decided to put this event on to create an opportunity for people to talk to each other.”

The topics the meeting revolved around were community building and storytelling, Malone said, with members sharing their unique generational experiences, coming-out stories, and learning about how to continue to develop a community despite age differences.

Jaime Nevins, the owner of Back Together Massage, said she attended the meeting to listen and understand where people in the community were at in their lives, She believed the meeting went well.

“Opening up a space for people to be heard is always good, to be able to speak and to be able to listen,” she said.

Although this discussion was facilitated by Malone as a of the Visibility Action Team, a group of volunteers that advocates and supports older LGBTQ residents of Johnson County, Malone said any future discussion would have to be organized and facilitated by members of the community.

Therefore, although this was the first intergenerational LGBTQ community discussion, it might be the last one.

However, the event appears in good hands; after the meeting finished, several attendees volunteered to host and organize the next event, including Nevins and Hakhamaneshiyan.

“The community has to pick this up,” Malone said. “The Visibility Action Team started the motor, and now the community has to drive the car.”

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