The Identity Center
A Diversity Activity that Shifts Perspectives and Expands Understanding and Acceptance of LGBTQ+ People
The Identity Center
An Inclusionary Employee/Participant Engagement Activity
The Identity Center is a traveling, socially-engaged vibrant employee/participant art engagement activity project that offers creativity, affirmation or expansion of the participant's awareness of the diversity of humanity, while providing the opportunity for dialogue, mixed with creativity, in a community or corporate setting.
The project begins with The Identity Center, which can be sited at workplaces, churches, nonprofits, corporate offices, conventions, conferences, farmer’s market and Pride festivals or other events across the United States.
"You have helped me to be more confident with who I am, and for that, I thank you."
The traveling The Identity Center consists of 19 gender and sexual orientation identity labels, with their definitions, that have color-coded ribbons and a community loom. Participants select the gender and sexual orientation identity ribbons that most closely defines them and weaves them into the loom. The process of selecting their ribbons encourages exploration of the variety of identities and creates dialogue between the facilitator and other participants. This community creative engagement experience establishes their connectedness to others: generating awareness, understanding and compassion while exploring the depth and beauty of an inclusive humanity.
After each site completes their weaving, Denise, the artist/facilitator, stabilizes it and enhances it by adding color neutral artistic fiber elements. The final tapestry is a visual language of all the identities represented at that site and date and showcases humanity’s expansive nature.
The final component will be a traveling gallery exhibit of the completed tapestries with its own socially-engaged The Identity Center, providing for an ever expanding visual record of sexual orientation and gender identities.
History of The Identity Center
The first The Identity Center was installed for approximately two months at The Studio, Sahara West Library as part of the art exhibit, Unraveling Identity, by Denise R. Duarte. Denise was uncertain if people would be willing to add ribbons symbolizing their personal identities to the loom. There was no need for her concern. She could barely keep up stocking the ribbons. The participants were eager to participate and were creative in how they weaved their ribbons, symbolizing their identity, to the loom. The result is an energetic and dramatic weaving indicating the full spectrum of color, with the straight identity (red) being the dominant color.
The third test of The Identity Center at Las Vegas Pride introduced a more diversified and inclusive community to the project. There was a constant stream of participants, who often had to wait to select their ribbons and weave them into the loom. People were excited to leave their mark of their identity and to be recognized in a safe and welcoming space. Many would check back to see how many colors (identities) were represented in the loom. Local church members requested The Identity Center to be set-up at their church because of a recent debate regarding LGBTQ+ acceptance.
In a rural community in New Mexico, The Identity Center was consistently busy by multi-generational people weaving their colorful symbols of their identities. Defying expectations that this rural community’s weaving would be dominated by cisgender (off white) and straight (red) symbolizing ribbons, a strikingly colorful visual map emerged. A father pulled Denise aside and in a whisper, asked if she would be willing to talk to his child, who he suspected might identify as non-binary. He wanted his child to be able to freely talk to someone who would not judge. Denise found a safe space to talk.
The weavings from each The Identity Center sites vary with the number of colors included. Some have a dominant color representing that community, while others offer a different visual map of identities. As with other weavings, some people braided their ribbons, others weaved them in a traditional manner and one person took the red ribbon (straight) and crossed it over many other colorful ribbons, she said to indicate her embrace and acceptance of all identities.
The process of weaving their identities symbolized their connection to the other participants. At each event, the accompanying discussions are indicative of people's eagerness to understand and to have a safe and welcoming space to ask their questions and receive honest answers. Often parents share that they have a child that identifies as LGBTQ+ and ask for resources. Those questioning, exploring or already identifying LGBTQ+ find acknowledgment and support. Some people, who proclaim opposition, have stopped to discuss their feelings and beliefs. They often have questions. Sometimes these discussions alter beliefs and perspectives, sometimes not. However, Denise says that each discussion is like planting seeds, which optimistically, may sprout acceptance at a later time.
The Identity Center at Your Site
"Thanks for the journey beyond binaries!"
Rob & Leili
"I see that we are all interconnected"
"It feels good to be represented."
The Identity Center is available in a variety of presentation configurations. It can be set-up gallery style on a wall, customized with temporary grid style or in an outdoor setting with a tent. We can accommodate any situation.
We staff the Identity Center and encourage dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity terminology and are able to answer employee or participant's questions. We have discovered that there is an eagerness to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community in a safe and welcoming space.
We provide all the materials, you provide the space and select the customized package that meets your business needs.
Help your employees understand and appreciate all of humanity by hosting the Identity Center at your place of business, conference or convention.
The Identity Center Package & Add-On Activities
Bring The Identity Center to your workplace, conference, convention, corporate office or community event. Select the basic package and customize the experience by selecting the add-on activities to make your employee/participant engagement activity fit your organization's needs.
The Identity Center set up at your workplace, corporate office, conference or convention. We provide all materials and staff it. You provide the location.
The Identity Center Basic Package
The Identity Center Basic Package includes the complete set-up which can be gallery style, pop-up grid style or tented. The Identity Center Basic Package includes:
staffing the center
the community loom
LGBTQ+ labels with definitions
We provide everything for your employees/participants to explore the varied sexual orientation and gender identities and select the ones that they identify with and weave them in the community loom. Our staff enables deeper conversations with explanations of the LGBTQ+ terminology to help expand awareness, provide affirmation and a deeper understanding of the full spectrum of humanity. You provide the space for the Identity Center. Additional Add-Ons are available below to expand the experience.
The Identity Center Add-Ons!
Customized art engagement workshops or corporate art challenges for your employees provide a deeper dive into the experience and give your employees a time for creativity and reflection while exploring humanity's sexual orientation and gender identities. Adobe's State of Create: 2016 report found that 76% of the companies that provided creativity opportunities had happier employees and 78% said it increased overall productivity. Workshops can be as simple as offering creative experiences in their break/lunch rooms to full art programs or an employee art exhibition focused on sexual orientation and gender identities. Contact us to create a workshop or art event that works for your organization.
Customized Inclusionary Employee Gifts
Deloitte states in the article Culture shift: Changing beliefs, behaviors, and outcomes that the steps to change culture are to diagnose, name, and validate. Validating the change can be accomplished by recognizing those who participate in The Identity Center and reinforcing their participation with something as simple as an employee coffee cup! This will set a cultural expectation in the office for an inclusionary mindset. We will create a customized item, with your logo, and provide the them to your employees/participants after they finish weaving into the loom to supporting their inclusionary participation in The Identity Center.
Customized Gifts include:
Cases: phone and laptop
Stationary: postcards, stickers
The Glossary: Language is also fluid and ever-changing. The Glossary is a living document dedicated to exploring the relationship between nature, specifically the botanical world, and humanity. In the plant world, in nature, reproduction and gender are varied and often fluid. Some plants even change from male to female (and vice versa) over the plant’s lifetime. Language is how we train our minds to think. It gives structure and meaning to our thoughts. Some terminology is still being developed and defined and this document is updated regularly. It is available in a downloadable pdf or in a printed edition.
Sponsorship of The Identity Center at a local community or nonprofit event, such as a church, nonprofit, corporate office, convention, conference, farmer’s market, Pride festival or other event.
Is your company or organization looking to combine their corporate social responsibility and/or corporate community involvement practices and foster inclusivity, diversity and acceptance? Does your company or organization wish to be seen as a local community leader? Sponsorship of The Identity Center at a local PRIDE festival, farmer's market or other event can help meet these goals. Your sponsorship can be customized and can include tent sponsorship signage, giveaways or recognize your employee resource group. We will work with you to create a sponsorship that exceeds your goals!
Denise R Duarte Speaking on LGBTQ+ terminology and inclusion.
Denise R. Duarte can speak at your event on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues and concepts, especially terminology and identity. She has authored over 30 articles on art, feminist and LGBTQ+ issues in a variety of publications such as sculpture.org, Baltimore OUTloud, Gay Life and the Washington Blade. Duarte co-authored Women of Diversity Productions, Inc.’s inaugural 2017 Gaming Gender Equality Index, a report revealing the results of a survey of 21 casino and gaming corporations which was conducted to assess their policies, practices and commitment to gender equality and the follow-up 2018 Gaming Gender Equality Index. Denise is an artist and advocate for equality with a focus on equity in the workplace. She can speak on the LGBTQ+ issues most pressing to your audience and answer questions on the expanding LGBTQ+ identities and terminology. Understanding the depth and breathe of humanity is key to acceptance.
Option to Purchase Final Tapestry Artwork
The final component from The Identity Center will be a traveling gallery exhibit of the completed tapestries with its own socially-engaged The Identity Center, providing for an ever expanding visual record of sexual orientation and gender identities. The weaving made at your organization's The Identity Center will be among them. Once finished, your organization can exercise its option to purchase the tapestry to be exhibited at your workplace. The price of the option will be subtracted from the purchase price. Each tapestry will be unique and a reflection of the sexual orientations and gender identities of your workplace.