Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stories matter

One of the defining aspects of humans is that we’re social, but we’re hardly unique in that. What does make us unique is that we can share in our social nature through words and visual images, and we use those abilities, and the technologies related to them, to learn about, understand, and form bonds with people all over the world. One of the ways we do that is through storytelling, and the video above is an example of that.

The video is the latest from a non-profit project called “I’m From Driftwood”, which, as their YouTube Channel puts it, “collects and shares true LGBTQ stories from all over the world to help our youth feel not so alone.” YouTube demographics skew somewhat younger than many other mass media, and it’s very much a place where young LGBTQ people create and share. So, it seems to me that this project is a perfect match for YouTube, and YouTube is the perfect place to reach LTBTQ people of any age.

The project was founded by Nathan Manske, who said on the project’s About page:
I was inspired to create I’m From Driftwood after seeing a photograph of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, riding on the hood of a car and holding a sign that read, “I’m From Woodmere, N.Y.” The sign showed just how far people came to attend the 1978 San Francisco Gay Pride march, but it meant something more to me: It meant that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in every small town and every big city across America and the world. I was thinking about that photo the morning after watching Milk, the biopic of Harvey Milk written by Dustin Lance Black. Harvey’s from Woodmere, New York; I’m from Driftwood, Texas.
The YouTube Channel holds the stories of many and diverse people, with many and diverse experiences. Their website also posts written stories. As their website says, “The stories on I'm From Driftwood send a simple yet powerful message to LGBTQ people everywhere: You are not alone.” I think it succeeds in that, but there’s more that it does, too.

I saw the video above when a friend shared it on Facebook, which is one of the ways these stories spread. In the days before the Internet, such easy (and anonymous) sharing wasn’t possible. Because of the Internet, LGBTQ people, along with their friends and family, can learn about the real lives of LGBTQ people, and that helps grow the acceptance of LGBTQ people, including accepting themselves. And, before they’re ready to embrace truth, they can learn in relative anonymity.

Any project that gathers human stories and makes them easily accessible is a good thing for building and expanding our shared humanity. There are many projects that do this, and the focus of this one does adds to that. Together, these projects make it easier for us to better understand each other.

All of our stories matter.

The video below is about the project:

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