Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. Follow him on Twitter.
Those moments when you share a personal story that you've held for years—and the listener connects beyond the intellectual—become gems. You remember them forever. Perhaps you open up about a long-held secret. Or you craft a story to revisit a grievance, impart how someone affected you for years, and ask for forgiveness or atonement. You recall a better track you once took—and why. You honor those special people in your life through a vignette; someone hears it and learns to move on.
Our stories connect us to our past and to our loved ones. We cannot transform the decision-makers of our world unless we recount what shaped our own tiny worlds.
The power of storytelling serves as the premise for SAGE Story, our acclaimed national digital storytelling program for LGBT older people. We have learned that a story can personify a complex policy issue and make it relatable. It dramatizes the human consequences of policy decisions, lifelong economic hardship or an incident of discrimination. And when people share their stories—in person or online—they come to terms with those memories and the process serves as catharsis. Those who hear the stories, in turn, grow more empathetic.
A colleague once remarked that our histories as LGBT people have so often been shaped by others—revised, ignored or erased—that we forget the importance of crafting our own stories.