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Whether or not you have children, you can learn something about leadership from parents—we all can. Alvin McCray and Jason Rudman would be star guests for Motivational Mondays for their professional achievements alone, but today they join Corey Powell to discuss leadership through their roles as fathers and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The NSLS community of leaders can learn so much from them about awareness, education, and living one’s truth.
LGBTQ+ EXPERIENCE AND INTERSECTIONALITY
Throughout this week’s episode, McCray and Rudman discuss the ways that their family lives at the “intersection of race, gender, and sexual identity,” as Rudman defines it. As a biracial, same-sex couple, the two live intersectionality in ways that many others don’t, The two come from very different backgrounds: McCray had a diverse, white-collar upbringing, while Rudman experienced an undiverse, British, blue-collar upbringing.
The couple shares with Powell their personal backgrounds as well as the story of their relationship. When they married in 2010, they did so in a nation that had not yet legalized gay marriage at the federal level. McCray and Rudman explore both the quirks and the more difficult realities of being a same-sex married couple back then, but they also share the ways that federal recognition hasn’t completely changed the lived reality for same-sex couples in many places.
People who are considered “different” have been rendered powerless throughout history. McCray and Rudman address the importance of honest, historical education to prevent repetition of these ills. But why does such oppression still exist?
POWER AND DIFFERENCE
Rudman suggests that “people in power have to have a foil in order to retain their grip on power.” By leveraging their power and rendering different populations powerless, he argues, these people “retain the majority.” McCray, Rudman, and Powell discuss the ways they have seen some people attempt to render powerless those of a different gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other element of identity simply by virtue of their being different.
Some people in power attempt to understand these differences, but Rudman discusses how that attempt to understand and deconstruct can place unnecessary barriers and continue to marginalize those whose choices people in power are attempting to understand. Instead, Rudman says that “it’s not yours to understand. You actually just need to accept…that we are going to walk in these shoes and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
PARENTING AND DIFFERENCE
As parents, McCray and Rudman teach their children this truth. While they do prepare them for the realities of the world, particularly as a biracial family, McCray asserts that for the most part, “we’re just living in our blessing.” They believe, however, that it’s their role as parents to relate to their kids through age-appropriate examples that can help them “learn how to operate in this world” and learn that “how you act when life isn’t fair will be the making of you.”
McCray and Rudman share several examples of how they address the question of being “different” with their kids and share their joy in just how well their own children “walk in their truth.” But learning about their differences is just one element of how the family thrives; they also participate within their community and seek connection with others.
Aside from instilling in their children the values of community service and activism, McCray and Rudman believe in the importance of community engagement to help their kids meet other people like them. Through events like their trip to Provincetown, MA or Pride parades, their children meet other kids with same-sex parents and gain opportunities to experience their own truth through lived experience, as they might through family reunions, African American history experiences, or any other community event.
Listen or watch to learn more about how McCray and Rudman model empathy, community engagement, and living one’s authentic truth!
If you enjoyed this week’s episode, check out last week’s chat with Ritu Bhasin about finding one’s authentic self.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[4:05] The realities and challenges of gay marriage in the U.S.
[4:45] How those in power retain control
[15:03] How McCray and Rudman address issues of race with their children
[17:01] The importance of honest education about our history
[21:20] How these two have raised their children to live their truth
[26:55] The value of community engagement
Listen to the bonus episode to learn the importance of teaching empathy and the necessity of conversation to share one’s story.
- Become an agent for change and learn about thought leadership at More Elephant.
Discover opportunities for LGBTQ+ students through McCray and Rudman’s Community College Scholarships.
- Support equality for LGBTQ+ families and find resources for family building with Family Equality.
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes