Stories Can Change the World

By, Benjamin W. Mason

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Imagine a world where everything is identical. People are the same height, have the same hair colour, wear the same clothes. Where every pair of shoes fits perfectly and every meal tastes the same. Sure, this reality might have some conveniences and save some time here and there, but overall I would bet the farm (if I had one) it would get boring pretty quickly.

The differences between us are what makes this world so refreshing. The sheer variety of people and all the associated customs, habits, beliefs and other influences that have made them the individual they are. But of course, we are all bound by the common thread of humanity, all sharing in the very thing which is life It is this commonality which can bring about compassion and understanding too, another part of the complex human puzzle.

This is why it is difficult to comprehend the influences which give rise to individuals who feel compelled to perform acts of violence, as in Orlando in June. This goes against both the common humanity we all share and surely the influence of society. What makes it harder to comprehend is that it may have been triggered by an intense self-loathing.

“Know thyself” was written over the Oracle at Delphi. This remains wise advice and is particularly resonant within the LGBTQ community, where coming to terms with yourself and same-sex attraction - at whatever stage of life -  can be a difficult realization for some.

What can compound this realization yet engender even stronger ‘internalized homophobia’ is being unable to identify with depictions or portrayals of LGBTQ people as regularly seen on popular TV or movies and this can add to the internal conflict, which occasionally manifests in such supreme tragedy as we witnessed in Florida.

While unfathomable to most of us, this railing against the perceived ‘other’ could be addressed to some measure by including a more diverse representation in media. Not all LGBTQ people like drag, leather, Madonna or brunch. I personally cannot stand shopping and would rather down a pint of lager in a pool hall before going to a dubstep night or sipping a martini on the roof terrace before a house set. Somewhat paradoxically, if someone who has difficulties accepting themselves saw more of themselves being authentically represented, perhaps this would go some small way towards helping internal reconciliation and healing.

Empathy and compassion are the fruits of our shared humanity, not fear and hate. By being exposed to a greater variety of individuals we can learn to be more accepting and tolerant, perhaps even finding peace within ourselves. This philosophy is why I chose to join REVRY, a platform which offers a diverse but actually authentic selection of voices and experiences from the global LGBTQ community.

Every friend you have started off as a stranger. As we learn more about some group or someone we lose the fear and the ‘otherness’ and see them as they are – just another person like you and me. Let’s embrace our similarities and celebrate our differences: there is no conflict here.

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Benjamin W. Mason is the Head of Business Development at REVRY.

Justin AyarsLGBTQ, Stories, Healing