Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing "Milk", movingly spoke about the difference between his own coming out experience in a supportive community in California and his late brother being unable to come out safely or openly in Texas. I can't stop thinking about the story and how we need to make the whole country a safer place for people like his brother to live openly (and marry legally). His story obviously touched a nerve--Nathan Lane, who had been emceeing the event, broke out of his scripted (and hilarious) hosting duties to share his own coming out experience. I just read that USA Network star, Matt Bomer, who had introduced the evening of storytelling, came out publicly last weekend--this is speculation, of course, but I can't help but think that he was inspired to do so by Dustin Lance Black and the honesty of all the storytellers at Characters Unite. The evening ended with Academy Award hopeful Octavia Spencer talking about how her experience filming "The Help" inspired her to use her own voice to make a difference.
One of the beautiful things about storytelling is how it breaks down barriers and reminds us that we are all part of a greater human story. I felt so honored to bear witness to these stories (and then to sit with the storytellers while John Legend played piano a few feet away!)
Tomorrow, I am going to be teaching a writing workshop to at-risk teenage girls through the Write of Your Life program co-founded by one of my former students. I look forward to sharing with them the power of storytelling and helping them discover the power of their own voices. We all have more reach than we ever could have imagined.