Recently, a talented youth worker and comic artist friend of mine wrote a letter to TED Talks about the lack of Queer/LGBTTIQQ people featured on their site. The letter below was send on 1st Feb 2001 and TED have yet to respond. Sam’s letter discusses some important issues for Queer people and the need for visibility and role models for Queer/LGBTTIQQ and questioning people. I hope that TED Talks starts to deal with the invisibility of Queer/LGBTTIQQ on their site. Below is Sam’s letter.
To TED Talks,
My name’s Sam, and I’m a youth-worker and a cartoonist in New Zealand. I really enjoy watching your videos, and I think it’s wonderful to have a place to come to to challenge myself, and feel empowered by, new ideas. I use your videos in my youth-work and in my daily life.
I am, however, disappointed at the lack of Queer themed talks on Ted. I use Queer as an umbrella term to cover sexuality and gender/sex diversity, it’s not the preferred term by all, but can include, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, takataapui, thirdsex, two spirit, asexual, fa’afine, and intersex identities (among others, and no disrespect is intended to those identities not specifically mentioned). I have searched a number of times on the site, using key words, but frequently herald a minimal list of results (and sometimes none at all).
I am writing to you to question why there is such a dearth of videos on this subject/these subjects. I am also writing to you to emphasise the importance of including diversity in your talks, with the express emphasis on sexuality and gender/sex diversity.
I work with young people, and have co-facilitated a youth social-support group for young people 20 and under who are queer and questioning in Dunedin, New Zealand. It is my fervent belief that including stories and ideas that express diversity are incredibly helpful and empowering for young people who are queer and questioning; to see themselves reflected, to know that they are not alone, and to have positive role models in their lives. It is also important for all those who do not identify as queer to have access to ideas and images of queer people. We need to begin to break down stereotypes, to encourage our straight allies to stand up for our rights, and to work towards ending discrimination and oppression of individuals based on their sexual orientations and gender/sex identities.
I am a transgender man, who has grown up in a world where there is limited visibility, and positive role modelling in the media of trans people. I have begun to create my own media in response to such a lack, in the form of comics. My work is by no means accomplished or groundbreaking, I do it because I need to see myself reflected some where. You have the opportunity to address this void.
Your inclusion of videos by, queer or straight individuals, on these topics would be greatly appreciated, and make a huge difference to your queer audiences, including me. I implore you to consider including queer themed talks in the future.