February 19, 2007

"Story, Narrative, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity"

Holly Stevens, who is the editor and publisher of the website "The Storyteller and the Listener Online," was kind enough to alert me to a feature she posted today regarding the GLBT community.

Holly hosted a Q&A with an eclectic panel to discuss the role or story and narrative in addressing issues involving the GLBT community. Here are a couple of highlights:

Christopher Maier: Being among the listeners to the GLBTQ panel of storytellers at the National Storytelling Conference in Rhode Island was momentous for me. The polyphony of voices -- including straight allies along with GLBTQ tellers -- really exposed my heart to how deeply we all suffer from our society’s skewed perceptions, homophobia and fearful blindness about sexual orientation and gender identity matters. It awakened my awareness of how much more I as a straight teller can do to work for gay rights/gay pride and for inclusion of these other voices in storytelling events. The stories that are the most eclipsed in our culture are those which we most need to hear.

How can storytelling in families nurture inclusive attitudes towards people who have different sexual orientations and gender identities?
Rob McCabe: By telling stories of GLBT people and acting as if the only thing different about them is whom they love -- by nature. I think it is a very strong case that GLBT people are born. It is no one's fault, although many mothers, including mine, have asked, "What have I done?" or "What have we done?" By telling stories showing how difficult it is being the "outsider," perhaps people will see that there really isn't anything "wrong" about being queer.

Patti Digh: When we choose stories to tell our children that involve nontraditional families and gay and lesbian characters, we are -- in essence -- giving voice to a broader reality for them. We are allowing them to realize that definitions of "normalcy" are broader than the general population might allow for. We are opening the door to a dialogue that might be difficult when faced head-on, but can be broached when the door is opened through story.

There are more excellent, thoughtful, open-minded ideas that are worth checking out in this Q&A and I encourage you to do so.

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