Speaker discusses identity issues

Leaders of the Association of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Student Organizations and Their Friends said that members of the community have much more than their sexual orientation and gender identity affecting their lives.
To illustrate this, the association has invited a number of speakers to talk about the way that gender, race, sexual orientation and other identities intersect and how that affects their activism and work.
On Thursday evening in Nicholson Hall, Kathleen Saadat, an African-American lesbian, spoke to a group of 28 people. She was asked to speak as the first part of the “Get the Connections Speaking” series for the association.
Nikki Kubista, treasurer of the association and a junior majoring in women’s studies, said she admires Saadat because she doesn’t identify herself as only African-American, or only a lesbian. Rather, the two terms make up just part of her identity. Kubista also said this idea is what the association hopes to convey through every speaker in the series.
Graduating from Reed College in Portland, Ore., in 1974 with a degree in psychology, Saadat was the executive director of the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs in 1986. Soon after, she became the director of Affirmative Action for the State of Oregon until 1990.
In 1992, she worked on the “No On 9” campaign in Oregon to defeat anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights legislation. Saadat said the legislation asked the public not to consider people of a different sexual orientation as citizens and that they would not be able to argue for full citizenship the way that other oppressed groups had in the past. “It’s about who gets to control your body,” Saadat said.
Saadat began her speech talking about organizing the personal feelings of a personal movement. She said that to organize, people must include others and “believe that people need to talk with others about what you believe in your heart, not just your head.”
Saadat has a lot of experience in leading groups.
In its June 1993 issue, Oregon Business Magazine listed Saadat as one of the “100 Who Lead,” and she received the 1993 Harvey Milk award. She received a civil liberties award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1994.
Currently, Saadat is a private consultant, a trainer in the areas of human diversity and organizational development and a motivational speaker. She has given numerous presentations, including a speech at the Idaho celebration of Martin Luther King Day. She was also a panelist for Planned Parenthood.
Saadat finished her speech by asking the rhetorical question, “What part of your life is not influenced by politics?”
Of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement, she said that “Every time we get a chance to move forward together … that’s victory.”
The audience then asked questions ranging from how to keep people constantly motivated in the movement to how one can get the message of the movement across.
Following Saadat’s presentation, there was a reception so that people could meet her personally and ask more questions they had about the speech or her work.