Passing Twice History
The idea for Passing Twice was born in 1992, at the 3rd World Congress of People who Stutter in San Francisco. There, Arno Hardt of Germany facilitated a lesbian and gay workshop. Sitting in a hotel conference room, ten of us from three countries grappled with the meaning of our double identities. We talked about dozens of issues, but the most significant was the similarity between coming out as a gay person and coming out as a stutterer.
After San Francisco, Elizabeth Kapstein came up with the phrase “Passing Twice” to suggest the dual ways we try to “pass” in society. For decades, but especially since the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the LGBT community has grappled with the issue of coming out in a hostile world. We have many years’ worth of communal wisdom to offer the stuttering self-help movement.
The first official Passing Twice workshop, at the National Stuttering Project’s Washington, D.C. convention in 1993, was a profound experience. Ten of us swapped stories, laughed and offered mutual support. Over the weekend, we shared fast dances and quiet tears. Many of us kept in touch. Since then, we have held workshops at every National Stuttering Project (and, later, National Stuttering Association) convention. We published our first newsletter in 1994. Now the newsletter is published quarterly.
We’ve also met at other national conventions. Starting in 1997, our workshops have becoming regular features at the Canadian Stuttering Association’s biennial conference. In 2006, we held our first workshop at the British Stuttering Association conference. And, since 1992, we have had workshops at three other Word Congresses: 1995 in Linköping, Sweden; 2001 in Ghent, Belgium; and 2004 in Perth, Australia. After the Ghent conference, De Standaard, a daily newspaper in Brussels, Belgium, published an article about Passing Twice.
In 1994, some of our members organized a meeting of stuttering lesbians and gays in Germany. Passing Twice had its first (and, so far, only) independent conference in San Francisco in 2004.
We have done other types of outreach, too. In May 1996, L’GASP (Lesbian and Gay Audiologists & Speech Pathologists), a group affiliated with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), invited Barry Yeoman as a guest speaker at its Washington meeting, to start dialogue between gay stutterers and gay speech therapists. The following year, Passing Twice provided program content consultation for a workshop on diversity in speech therapy for school-aged children. Speech-Language Pathologist Arturo Cabello addressed the California Speech and Hearing Association about issues affecting lesbian and gay students.
Also in 1997, at the “Can You Hear Us Beyond Our Stutter?” workshop at International Fluency Association conference in San Francisco, panelists Greg Battle, Kathleen Hermanek, Arnetta Jones and Elizabeth Kapstein addressed issues affecting gays, lesbians, African Americans and other minorities who stutter. Thirty speech-language pathologists and stutterers attended.The same month, Oasis, an online magazine for queer youth, published an article by Elizabeth Kapstein about Passing Twice. It was not our only media attention that year: The New York Times published a letter by David Anderson about depiction of gay stuttering characters in the movies; Jon-Henri Damski, a columnist for Outlinesin Chicago, published a column on gay stutterers; and Out magazine published a column by Barry Yeoman on stuttering. In November, Barry Yeoman and Robert Rimac presented a poster session about Passing Twice at the annual ASHA convention in Boston.
In 2000, Barry Yeoman and Connie Dugan presented a workshop about working with queer stutterers at ASHA convention in Washington, D.C. And at 2002’s Queer Disability conference at San Francisco State University, Nora O’Connor and Tom Laktriz presented a workshop on Passing Twice.
Passing Twice became a member of the International Stuttering Association in 2002. This links Passing Twice to people who stutter in about 40 countries around the world. The ISA’s mission is “a world which understands stuttering.” The fact that membership was granted quickly is a validation among people who stutter from many different cultures that coming out of the stuttering closet is as important to people who stutter as coming out of the gay closet is to the LGBT community. Passing Twice has made a valuable contribution to the ISA, with regular Passing Twice news updates in its newsletter, One Voice, and with Warren Brown serving on the ISA’s board from 2004 to 2007.
Currently, Passing Twice has about 200 members.