Monday, April 20, 2009

Salt Lake City 27.11.07: Skeins of Meaning and Family History

In Salt Lake City again. I keep hearing in my mind’s ear something Peterson Toscano said on a program I watched recently, a video of a conference for survivors of ex-gay “ministry.” He said that out story is extremely powerful, when we tell it.

So why am I here? To learn to tell my story. To spot my story. To follow threads that tell me I have a story.

So much conduces to delude, to convince those of us shoved to the margins that we don’t have a story. Story empowers. It frames existence. Better, it provides a skein that gives meaning to the disparate threads of existence.

For those whose story has the power to challenge dominant narratives, it’s crucially important for the makers of the dominant narrative to try to thwart our ability to see strands of meaning in our lives. It’s important to keep us from retrieving those strands and weaving them into a coherent narrative.

It’s important to convince us that our lives have no meaning except that imposed by the makers and keepers of the dominant narrative. If we are to have stories at all, we must accept them as given to us, imposed on us. And those narratives will naturally distort the significance of our real stories and subject them to normative social meaning.

This is one reason I do family history—to learn to tell stories. I’m retrieving stories of people who, in many cases, were robbed of their ability to find and tell their own stories.

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