Over at The Asexual Agenda, I’ve written a post on the value of sharing and listening to personal stories about asexuality, alongside the more political and theoretical discussions we have in the ace community. The post also announces a new project I’m working on, creating such a space. You can head over to the original post for more details on the project if you wish.
Some excerpts from the post are below: they talk about the asexual community in particular, but I think they can be applied to pretty much any minority or marginalised community.
Telling stories is, among minority groups in particular, a way of building community, finding commonality (and difference), and asserting existence and pride. In telling stories, we share who we are and that we exist, and in listening to the stories of others, we are able to connect and learn and expand our own perspectives and worldviews. The act of sharing stories and listening to others’ reveals the invisible and the marginal, and creates spaces where dominant narratives can be displaced – or at least, expanded to incorporate the experiences of those not traditionally seen or heard. Stories can have just as much power as theoretical discussions and the more political types of activism.
Spaces where individual stories can be shared and valued without scrutiny and psychoanalysis are spaces where individuals are valued for who they are, no more or no less than the next individual. Such spaces say ‘we value your story, regardless of how visible it is to the rest of society, regardless of how well it fits within the established way of doing things.’ I hope that The Asexual Story Project, when launched, can be a space like this: one that collects the individual, personal stories and experiences of asexual and ace-spectrum people, and creates a platform for visibility and feelings of belonging and similarity among aces. At the same time, I want the project to highlight the diversity of our community, and be something that people can learn from. I want aces and non-aces alike to be able to browse the stories on the site and draw on the experiences of others.
We can all learn from reading or listening to the stories of others, even if their experiences differ from our own. For me, empathy is one of the key components of activism, and simply listening to others’ stories is one of the best ways of understanding where others are coming from and what difficulties they might face. At the same time, sharing your own story can be a form of activism in itself, a way of giving back and claiming belonging. And both things are incredibly powerful.