Crafton Hills College’s ‘Gaypril’ series welcomes Doctor Jon Paul
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Publish Date: April 20, 2023

People at event

Crafton Hills College’s Gaypril Speaker Series brought in a powerful voice, someone who hopes to change the landscape of how you think about yourself.

Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins, aka DoctorJonPaul, is an award-winning educator, professor, national speaker, and freelance journalist who visited the campus on Tuesday, April 12, to speak openly about their experience within the LGBTQIA+ community with their presentation titled “Celebrating The ‘U’ In Queer.”

“The world has never been easy for us. And when I say, ‘For us,’ what I mean specifically is for queer people,” they explained. “But when you add on the blackness, and when you add on the fatness, and you add on the poor and you add on all of these different people that make up folks like myself, you have to figure out how do I love and navigate in a world when I’m being told every day that I’m not wanted?”

It takes a lot of work.

DoctorJonPaul is not afraid to share that they have been in therapy to work on themselves. In fact, they encourage it, telling the more than a dozen in attendance that a lot about what they had believed about themselves in the past were “things that were told to me.”

“And a lot of what you believe in about yourself is rooted in white supremacy and anti-queer rhetoric,” they continued. “The one thing that you will hear me always talk about is how everything we think about oppression … is all a system. No matter if you believe it or not, it is still impacting you, it is still affecting you, and it is still going to shape how you feel about yourself.”

DoctorJohnPaul’s presentation was accompanied by a PowerPoint that allowed for those in attendance to take notes. To help draw the point, DoctorJonPaul broke down their remarks into three categories: “The Power of Unlearning,” “How do we learn/re-learn how to like and love who you are?” and “The importance of community both in and outside of Crafton Hills.”

For example, learning to unlearn some of the past is more powerful than you think, they explained, and embracing radical self-love is an ongoing process that allows for an individual to unlearn toxic beliefs about one’s inferiority and replace them with compassion and self-acceptance.

"A lot of us feel that people have to give us love with constraints or feel like we are not worthy of love, or we’ve been told that we’ll never be loved,” DoctorJonPaul explained. “I will say this, up until I met my partner, I … [thought] that I would never be loved, but my partner has helped me understand what love can truly mean.

“I guess the biggest thing you can take from this conversation is if you are queer, if you’re an ally, or whatever the case may be, be kind to yourself,” they continued. “This world has already beaten all of us up.”

The Gaypril series continues throughout April to educate those looking for a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues, whether they are a member of that community or not.

“Our campus has a little bit of a difficulty navigating the waters of the [CHC] community with what we want to accomplish here for our students,” shared Gwendolyn Diponio, a Crafton English professor. “And so, the idea that DoctorJonPaul was bringing forth here is that we just have to be brave and do what we need to do here and hope the community will follow in that light.

“It’s about us knowing our directive and to follow that directive and hopefully the community will join us. That’s the key,” Diponio continued.

To learn more about Doctor Jon Paul or to follow their work, go to www.DoctorJonPaul.com or follow them on social media with the handle Doctor Jon Paul.