About Us → News & Events Stigma Warrior: Meet Karen
My name is Karen DeMeola, I am the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Belonging and Community Engagement at UCONN School of Law.
It's important to stand up to stigma and discrimination because for too long many communities, and individuals, with intersecting and/or minoritized identities, have been silenced. Structural inequalities, explicit and implicit bias, cultural norms and expectations and familial disappointment have impacted so many of us. Not to mention personal feelings of isolation, shame, and grief. It is important for those of us who can safely live and vocalize our truth to do so, for all those who can’t or for those who simply feel alone and unseen.
Varied roles through my life have given me voice and opportunity to be unapologetically and authentically me. I use my privilege in these spaces to be a visible and vocal representative for those without voice and privilege. It also helps to have supportive family, colleagues, and communities but there are so many who are and/or feel alone. If I can be a support for those who have known nothing but pain, loneliness, and shame, I will.
I would tell folks that are facing stigma and discrimination within their community to ensure their physical safety first. In addition, knowing that there are others who have faced and continue to face stigma and discrimination based on our varied and intersectional identities, can help with feelings of isolation and shame. For me, connecting with lesbian support groups and spaces was critical to my existence as a young adult. Connect with organizations like HCAI that can provide resources and support; identity based organizations and support groups; or the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), that help support folks who feel like they have been discriminated against.