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Amanda Udis-Kessler
Amanda Udis-Kessler
Amanda Udis-Kessler is a writer, sociologist, musician, social justice educator, seminarian, and cat lover living in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

On Chastened Idealism


by: on January 8th, 2011 | 11 Comments »

Antiwar poster (photo by Baltine)

The first time I saw my father after my AIDS civil disobedience arrest (during my senior year in college), he approved of my actions and then said, with a mixture of sadness and bemusement, “It’s a shame you won’t be an idealist after you’ve been an adult for awhile.” I recall bursting into tears and protesting that I would be an idealist my whole life.

Well, Dad was both right and wrong, bless him. Twenty-something years later I am still an idealist, but now I am a chastened idealist, and I think you should be too. Or at least that you should think about the idea, since it has elements to commend it.


Dreams and DADT: Joy and Sadness


by: on December 20th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

DADT Defense Dept. Report

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed by the Senate, and now only awaits the President’s signature. A great day for social justice, right?

It is. But my joy is profoundly mitigated by the Senate’s failure to pass the Dream Act, a bill that would have granted legal status to undocumented immigrant students and allowed them to go through a process by which they could have become U.S. citizens. What a wonderful pro-lives stance that would have been. And with the incoming Congress, we can’t reasonably expect to see the bill passed anytime soon.


On Making It Better


by: on December 9th, 2010 | 8 Comments »

Seattle LGBT youth chorus Diverse Harmony (photo by benjiboi)

It had to happen sooner or later: critiques of the “It Gets Better” campaign. But not from antigay religious conservatives; oh no, that would be too easy.

Instead, the critique appears to be coming from the left, and it comes down mostly to the following: the campaign is too assimilationist; it only really supports white middle-class young gay men and its vision for them is that they will turn into Dan Savage, though perhaps with fewer insights about how to write a sex column. Left out of the equation are women, queers of color, transyouth, and poor LGBTQ young people, according to these critiques (well-represented by Jasbir Puar’s piece, which ends by claiming that the campaign might be making things worse for queer youth who don’t fit the wealthy white male profile).

Then there’s Danah Boyd’s research on how teens in general don’t conceptualize bullying the way adults do, with the consequence that well-intended adult attempts to address teen bullying are falling on largely deaf teen ears. This piece doesn’t address sexuality at all, but winds up presenting bullying as a simple (and complex) matter of teen social dynamics. One could read the article and come away thinking this issue really is not about social injustice at all.


An Apology and a Question


by: on November 25th, 2010 | 8 Comments »

Rochester, MN UU church sign (photo by Jonathunder)

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to blog, something I have been learning about over these past few months. You have to be pretty sure of yourself. But sometimes, the ethically and spiritually right thing to do is apologize. And I owe you my readers an apology. (We’ll get to the question later. It is on a different topic.)

A few days ago, I posted on DADT for the first time ever. I did so because I felt that a particular argument needed to be made and offered to the public, and not having seen anyone else make it (maybe I just haven’t been reading broadly enough), I decided it must be mine to deliver. But I did so with trepidation, and my trepidation proved well-founded.