The Power of Storytelling in the Queer Community

Share Post

story telling blog

Throughout my life, I have been a storyteller. 

  • In my early years, I would learn something cool in school and then give a presentation about it to younger students because I was so excited to share what I was learning with others. 
  • As I got older, I wrote poetry as a way of showing others who were experiencing difficult things that they were not alone. 
  • In college, I would speak to classes about what it was like to grow up queer in a small town and how I was able to come out and be proud of who I am.story telling blog

Part of what I shared was how important it was for me to have people in my life that made me feel loved and accepted so that I was able to live authentically. In the telling of my story, I encouraged other people to be present for folks as they explored their gender and sexual identities. I encouraged people to make safe spaces for their LGBTQIA+ friends and loved ones or for their students and I talked about the importance of showing up in both bold and subtle ways for peers in the queer community.

At the time, I was unaware of the long lasting impact that storytelling can have on people. I figured that my storytelling would have a short-term impact and that folks would take the parts of my story that were relevant to them and continue on with their day, hopefully a little bit more aware and better for it.  

Recently while on vacation, I ran into an old friend from college. We did not run in the same circles while in college or spend much time together, and were not in touch after graduating besides the occasional social media message. 

I saw that this friend posted recently that they were on the planning committee to help plan the LGBTQ Pride event in Grand Marais, Minnesota which happened to be on the same weekend that I was going to be in Grand Marais. I wandered over to Harbor Park just in time to join in on their queer Pride march, which took place throughout downtown Grand Marais. 

As I was walking through the streets of Grand Marais, I saw that the person at the front of the parade was my friend, who I hadn’t seen in years. They were singing and dancing proudly. They saw me, ran up to me, and gave me the biggest hug. 

This tiny little Pride march of no more than two hundred people was one of the most fun and magical Pride pride flag blogexperiences I have ever had. This was a small community of a thousand people showing up to make sure that the queer folks in their community knew that they were welcomed and supported.

After the group dance and at the beginning of the DJ dance party I found my friend. We embraced and they started sobbing. I asked them why they were crying and they told me that they were finally brave enough to embrace their journey of self-discovery and acceptance of their queerness. I told them that I was so very proud of them and that I wanted to hear all about their story:

They shared that in undergrad I spoke for their class and that presentation was the beginning of a journey of self-awareness and self-discovery for them. They shared with me that me being brave enough to tell my story helped change the way they experienced the world. They now had a face and a name for a person who was queer and that inherently changed the way they viewed others. 

My friend told me that from that moment forward they began to make space in their heart for people who were different from them and they wanted to help make the world less harmful and more helpful for all sorts of people. I had no idea that that one moment in time had an impact on someone as much as it has. 

We talked about what it is like to be on a journey of identity that is ever-changing and about how we are never fully done coming out or evolving. The journey into self-love is continuous. 

We talked about what it is like to be queer in a small town and why they continue to remain in the small town even when it can be difficult, lonely, and isolating. They shared with me that days like this make it wonderful and beautiful and that they feel a sense of responsibility to stay in the small town so that they can provide a safe space for all of those folk who still live there. 

It’s easy for those of us who live in more densely populated areas to forget what it is like for marginalized communities to live in rural parts of the country. We take our communities for granted, we take exposure and access for granted, and we forget that the rest of the world is not like this. We forget that there is a world outside of the city that is not as accepting or safe for people in the LGBTQ community. We forget that there is a need for storytelling so that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and generally queer people in those communities don’t feel so alone.

So now that I’m back home in the Cities I’m left wondering, what do we do now? Where do we go from here? How do we make space for our rural queer friends and family so that they can continue to live authentically and thrive in whatever environment they are in? How do we make space for their stories so that others can hear their experiences and not feel so alone?

 I believe that it is important for people to tell our stories, especially those of us who are in marginalized populations. Take me for example–22 years ago I told my story that impacted my friend’s life, and now today their story is impacting mine. Telling our stories to one another over time moved a relationship from acquaintances to close friends and has helped both of us in our queer identities. 

How has storytelling impacted your identity development?


This blog was written by Sentier therapist Ashley Groshek, LMFT.

Stay Connected

More Updates

sentier therapy tree graphic

To Receive our Quarterly Newsletter

Enter your email address to receive information about current and future groups/seminars/workshops/game nights/book discussions, community resources, and other exciting news and events related to Sentier Psychotherapy and the local Twin Cities community!