Practice Civility

Allison Walkley

Author of Queer Greer and Choice, young-adult novels focusing on identity and activism (Photo by Frank Terry)

Major: English

What I love most about what I do: Developing characters facing difficult and controversial circumstances and then challenging my readers to consider what they would do in similar situations.

How my Dickinson experience prepared me: Dickinson's gay-straight alliance, Spectrum, helped me find my identity and inspired me to write the book I would have liked to have read when I was coming to terms with my sexuality in college.

My favorite activity/organization at Dickinson:
Spectrum, hands down. It cemented my identity as an activist, which has become essential to who I am and what I stand for. 

The accomplishment I was most proud of at Dickinson: Spearheading an effort through Spectrum to change the Food and Drug Administration policy banning gay men from donating blood. We were invited to Capitol Hill to discuss a change with members of Congress.

The accomplishment I am most proud of today: Writing Queer Greer, which has come to mean so much to so many people in the LGBT community.

What "practicing civility" means to me: Speaking up about the issues I feel strongly about. The louder and more well-informed my voice, the greater the chance that my words will add to the momentum that will ultimately facilitate change.

The most challenging part of my work: I have so many topics I want to tackle at once—LGBT struggles, abortion, women's rights, the justice system. I find it a challenge to focus on one at a time and see them each through to fruition.

My favorite professor: Taking Professor [of English] Wendy Moffat's seminar on sexuality and modernism during my senior year led me to write a thesis I am proud of to this day on transgender versus lesbian identity in Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness. Her course helped open my eyes even more to the spectrum of sexuality and gender performance, which have remained themes in my life—both personally and professionally—ever since.

How I chose Dickinson: After a broad search along the East Coast for a school that fit, I stepped foot on the Dickinson campus, surrounded by all of those limestone buildings, and immediately had a gut feeling that Dickinson was where I was meant to be.

How I stay connected to Dickinson: I mainly stay connected to my friends and past professors through Facebook. Social media is a wonderful thing!

Published August 22, 2012