Cultivating empathy through authentic storytelling.
For many of us, automatic behavior stems from the repetitive messaging that we start to receive early on in our lives. Thought patterns are built over time and shaped by each individual’s specific influences; internal and external. Sometimes, negative influence can manifest as bullying and/or self-harm.
Bullying is often rooted in fear of the unknown. Kids tease other kids because they don’t understand them—because they’re different. Often, this is a projection. What they’re actually afraid of are the parts of themselves that are different. Both self-harm and bullying are a result of internalizing or externalizing negative self-talk as the inner child seeks an outlet to express their pain. Even though these behaviors look different, the source of suffering is the same—feeling unworthy of unconditional love and acceptance.
Storytelling is a powerful way to bring awareness to how we react to negativity. Self-awareness is strengthened when we’re able to draw our attention to our own thought patterns, opinions, and impulsive actions with self-compassion.
By choosing to see other people’s differences through a mindful, caring lens—not angrily forcing opinions; but approaching with openness and curiosity—we unify those with valuable stories to tell, and those whose hearts are opened by them.
Being Your Beauty is about three uniquely beautiful humans sharing their stories with the intention of expanding perspectives and filling hearts with love.
Historically, LGBTQ+ folx have been categorized as a minority. To me, the concept behind this word can present an obstacle to widespread acceptance, as it indicates separation. For many members of our community, Pride Month is a celebration for those who relate to the feeling of nonbelonging within the mainstream majority. It’s also an opportunity for everyone to question the relevancy of a collective programming that has been dominated by the belief that gender identity and sexual orientation are binary. This belief states that we are all supposed to find our place on one side of the binary or another; but humans—humanity itself—is constantly evolving. We are, by nature, fluid beings.
Why is Pride a whole month long? I don’t officially know why, but I like to think it’s because we all have a lot to be proud of (and they wouldn’t give us the whole year). Pride isn’t just for LGBTQ+ folx, but for all of our beloved allies as well. By celebrating together, we are bridging the socially constructed divide separating “minority” from “majority.”
This year, my 32nd birthday will fall on the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a moment when queer folx decided to stand up for their unique beauty over culturally constructed shame. This event happened less than 100 years ago. Humans are thought to have been here for about 6 million years. Empowerment can feel gradual, and it often is. It’s also very fast-moving. As awareness of gender diversity grows, we continue to close this divide by disintegrating judgment through empathic storytelling.
I’m incredibly grateful to Queer Connect for funding this exhibition, and The Left Bank for being the perfect home for these powerful stories.
Augusta Rose and Razz at the gallery opening.
A gallery opening for Being Your Beauty was held at The Left Bank in North Bennington, Vermont on June 4th, 2022. Thank you to all who attended!