By: Parker Williamson
The Center for Multicultural Education hosted an on-campus event featuring a presentation from Rain Dove, an androgynous model and activist on Wednesday, Feb 27.
CME Director Latoya Muhammad was excited for Dove to present at Missouri Western. She saw a video of a TED Talk that Dove had done and knew that she wanted them to come speak on campus. She said that it was important to bring Dove to MWSU because in the past the university has not hosted a lot of out-of-the-box speakers that would challenge the students’ viewpoints and ideas.
“We need to make sure that we give our students many different and diverse perspectives,” Muhammad said. “Whether you agree with it or not, all of those voices need to be heard.”
After living in their car and experiencing homeless life, Dove managed to get a scholarship to study genetic engineering and civil law at the University of California, Berkeley. Dove’s modeling career started after they lost a bet and had to participate in a Calvin Klein show. At the show they were accidentally cast as a male, and instead of correcting the mistake, they walked out on stage in just men’s underwear. Eventually, they caught a huge break in the modeling industry and took off as an androgynous model. Since then, Dove has modelled men’s and women’s fashion.
During their presentation, Dove told stories from parts of their life relating to the impact of gendered pronouns, homelessness and the concept of hate.
“To get to the place where I am right now, where I feel stable and strong in who I am, I had to learn to deal with haters,” Dove said. “It sounds very cliché but is actually incredibly hard to do.”
Dove explained that there will always be at least one person on the planet who hates you, and it might be for no reason at all. They said that it is important to have an “exit buddy” or a person that you can share your thoughts and feelings with.
“When we have problems or frustrations that just won’t go away we tend to not want to share as much,” Dove said. “We feel like we are inconveniencing them or being rude by just telling them what’s going on in our life. By not telling them, we are saying that we don’t trust them enough to handle me [sic] as a person. And is that person really your friend if you can’t trust them at that level? Sometimes when we give other people the opportunity to stand up for us it encourages them to step up for themselves. It is so important that we don’t hold back just because we think it is impolite.”
Dove said that we create hate as a society from concepts like gender roles and sexuality roles. They believe that if we feel self-hate or shame from a particular role or label that was given to us we should challenge it and understand why we feel shame from it.
“When we assume who somebody is for them, we take away their freedom,” Dove said. “When we ask someone their preferred pronouns it isn’t some weird liberal agenda. We are giving them the power to define themselves, and this gives them the opportunity to be the person that they are.”
At the end of the presentation, Dove said that the one thing everyone should take away from their speech is “I am I” stating that all you need to know about yourself is that you are you.
Throughout the presentation, Dove used cat memes and jokes to keep the atmosphere lighthearted. Dove was no stranger to their audience and interacted with them before, after and during their talk.
Afterward, Public Relations and Marketing Assistant Aubry Carpenter said she thought Dove’s presentation was fantastic. She liked that Dove was a less traditional speaker because people need to hear all of the different opinions they can get.
“Rain had a lot of good messages both for college students and for the community at large,” Carpenter said. “I think that we get tied up in the hatred of today, and it can be hard to get out of that negative mindset. So to see somebody so positive despite everything they’ve been through and had to overcome was really inspiring. I think it was really great to bring to campus.”