Partnerships Come in All Forms, But Storytelling is Always at the Core
Partnerships come in all forms, both transactional and transformational. The deepest of these involve a connection and understanding of each other’s stories . . . our likes, our fears, our dreams. In the words of Harper Lee, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Kelsey and I have worked tirelessly over the last six years to develop this type of experience for our storytellers, writers, and actors who have been involved in over 75 different Facing Projects across the country. During this time, we’ve gotten to know each other quite well in our partnership as founders of the organization but also as close friends. And even though we thought we knew everything about each other, even more was revealed this past spring when Kelsey sat down with me to write my story for this Saturday’s Facing LGBTQ+ Pride book launch and theatrical event. This is the first time I’ve told my story in a Facing Project, and it was the first time Kelsey ever interviewed me.
As Kelsey mentioned in a blog post about our collaboration, “. . . I thought I knew a lot of his story, thoughts and feelings, but . . . (I learned when we first met) He was worried that I, like so many people in so many places, would devalue him because of who he loved.”
It was tough to tell Kelsey what my feelings were the day we met, but it opened his eyes to the worry I have any time I meet someone new. And I’m lucky . . . I have a strong support network (and, okay, I’ll admit it, a lot of confidence that can sometimes make me look like an asshole). But imagine those who don’t have anyone to turn to . . . those who, like 43% of homeless youth, were thrown out of their homes for who they love. These are stories so many Americans don’t know about or don’t understand. Here in Muncie we had 23 writers sit down with 23 storytellers from the LGBTQ+ and ally community, and these stories, including mine, will live on as a resource for Muncie (and beyond). They will help you understand our likes, our fears, our dreams. They’ll help you see us as regular old people and as extraordinary people. Just like many of you.
Kelsey and I are no doubt even closer after this experience. Thank you, Mr. Timmerman, for being my partner in so many ways and for becoming the biggest ally I know.
To get a copy of the Facing LGBTQ+ Pride book and to see the theatrical performance on June 30th, reserve your seat online at give.classy.org/facingpride.