LGBT Center hosts Spoonie Spectrum

The LGBT Center hosted a “Spoonie Spectrum” discussion group on Monday, Feb. 5 as part of a monthly series for the semester. “Spoonie,” a word people with chronic illnesses and disabilities often use to describe themselves, comes from the Spoon Theory, which uses spoons to visualize spoonies’ limited energy to do things in a day. “Spectrum” is widely used to describe the LGBT community.

According to LGBT Center Director Liz Roccoforte, Spoonie Spectrum started last fall as the LGBT Center realized the need for student discussion group interaction. Jaden List, facilitator of Spoonie Spectrum, decided to host the discussion group because of their own experiences.

“I started Spoonie Spectrum to create a support network for the people occupying the stressful intersection,” they said.

List is a social work intern with the Mandel School, and they have a passion for finding and filling unequal gaps in society.

“Being a part of the LGBT community and a person with a disability that uses Spoon Theory to cope, I was and am well acquainted with the unique challenges of being a part of both groups,” List said. “I realized that some people that come to the LGBT Center on campus were facing the same challenges that I was.”

List elaborated that identifying as a person with disabilities and coping with “an increasingly challenging chronic illness” was a difficult process for them, so they knew others would need support when dealing with their disabilities. However, they also pointed out the prevalence of “misunderstanding, invalidation and exclusion” for people with disabilities who use the LGBT Center.

“Seeing the impact of these experiences on the mental health and well-being of the population I serve was more than enough motivation to organize the discussion group,” List said.

Both Roccoforte and List agree that Spoonie Spectrum is a great support and resource for those in the LGBT community with disabilities.

“As with all our conversation groups,” Roccoforte said, “we aim to provide a space for students with a particular shared identity—in this case having a disability and being LGBTQ—to find community and resources in one another.”

List added, “This includes giving tips for navigating sometimes complicated healthcare services and brainstorming together to find ways to mitigate the effects of a person’s disability or disabilities.”

List is optimistic about Spoonie Spectrum’s future.

“I think Spoonie Spectrum has a great deal of potential,” List said. “So far, I think it has been a comforting source of information and support … I am excited to see the growth of the group. There is always opportunity for new student leaders to direct the conversation group, and increasing attendance will only strengthen the network among people in the LGBT community with disabilities.”