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 The world is ending, you’ve got a boat, and the 13 people listed below are around you, but you can only put 8 people on the boat. Who would you pick and why? GO!!! Leave your answers in the form of comments.

• Black pregnant woman
• HIV+ person who is sexually active
• 17yr-old convicted felon
• Exotic dancer
• Famous singer
• Rich white man
• Korean store owner
• Muslim male
• Advocate for LGBTQ youth
• Person in wheelchair
• Drag Queen
• Person struggling from addiction
• 350lb person

This was an exercise at a session by Y-Hep I attended today titled, “Stigma & HIV Among LGBTQ Youth”. The room was split into 6 groups who were then handed sheets of paper with this description and asked to make the decision as a group. It was really interesting to see what people’s choices were and the reasons behind those choices. The moderator commented on the detailed personalities that were being given to these descriptions.

For most groups, deciding not to let the rich white man on the boat because his kind is typically on the receiving end of privilege. In my group, I suggested that he be let on because his money could be used to rebuild a society, completely forgetting all the times when I ranted and raved about rich white men getting to make decisions about things that didn’t concern them. At the end of the exercise, the moderator pointed out that even though the rich white man typically gets the bad rap, a hefty assumption had been made from the very little information provided. “What if he was Elton John? Or Bill Gates? Or Warren Buffet?”
*insert shattering glass sound as everyone realizes that she speaks the truth*.
These are all rich white men, but they do great work.

While the names of popular, philanthropic, rich white men were being shouted out as exemplary suggestions, someone yelled, “Obama!”. And I rolled my eyes because, really? Are we going to do that birther nonsense here? While some serious lessons are being taught?

The Black Pregnant Woman was a no-brainer for most, eliciting sympathy for her condition, and elation at the idea of saving not one, but two lives. For the same reason I suggested the rich white man, another group suggested the Korean store owner in his stead, listing his/her fiscal worth business ownership as a positive. Most groups also chose to put the drag queen or the exotic dancer on the boat for entertainment purposes, to which the moderator replied, “It’s the end of the world. Do you think either of them would be in the mood to entertain you?!”

Another choice that was particularly interesting, was for one group to decide against letting the HIV positive person on the boat. There was a collective gasp of disbelief before it was explained that the reasoning behind the decision was the possible lack of medication on the boat, and consequent demise of said person. Makes you think don’t it?

What have we learned today kids? Well, it’s rude to make assumptions about people based off of very little, undetailed information. Instead, ask follow-up questions to form a better perception of people. It’s very important when one is trying to create messages to disseminate to a diversified audience. It’s especially important with LGBTQ youth and plays a big part in how they choose to access healthcare. Being that we live in a heteronormative society, neglecting to construct the right messages for LGBTQ youth creates stigma.