Seattle-based memoir author and writing coach Ingrid Ricks recently led a personal storywriting workshop for LGBTQIA seniors and their allies at Seattle’s GenPRIDE center. The workshop built a community of writers and generated an intriguing anthology of fourteen stories entitled Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community, released in October to celebrate LGBTQIA History Month. Join us at 6:30 p.m. on Wed. Nov. 18 for readings from Unmuted Stories. Recently, Ricks shared her thoughts with us here on the publication:
I know it sounds simplistic, but I’m convinced that personal storytelling is the key to world peace.
It was the community-building power of personal narrative — along with its ability to foster healing and empathy in today’s deeply-divided world — that excited me most about partnering with GenPRIDE Executive Director, Steven Knipp, to spearhead its ongoing writing workshop.
Our stories humanize us, connect us, heal us. I’ve seen this play out thousands of times with students of every age, and I witnessed the transformative power of personal storytelling once again this past year in working with the GenPRIDE community.
Though united under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, the strangers who gathered for the first GenPRIDE writing workshop couldn’t have appeared more different. What did a middle-aged black man have in common with a white transgender woman in her 70’s? What did a retired lesbian English teacher have in common with a gay man struggling to live with AIDS? What did I, a white straight woman, have in common with the LGBTQIA+ community? Our stories.
When we all share our stories, we realize that we are not alone. We discover that we all struggle with hard things in our lives and that there is much more that unites us than divides us. Suddenly labels go away — whether it’s our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our age, the color of our skin, or any struggle that’s been shoved under the disabilities label. It just doesn’t matter.
The stories in Unmuted are raw and powerful. They touch on topics that impact all of us: illness, loss of a loved one, discrimination, loneliness, addiction, relationships and search of our authentic selves. They are a reminder that what you see externally has nothing to do with who we are internally. They remind us that at the core, we all want the same things: health, stability, acceptance and love.
I’m honored to have played a role in bringing these amazing stories to the world. Most of all, I’m grateful for the gift of calling all of these incredible, resilient authors my friends. We started as strangers and now consider ourselves family — brought together through the power of story.
Ingrid Ricks is a Seattle-based memoir author and writing coach who is passionate about leveraging the power of personal narrative to foster healing, awareness, empathy and change. She is the author of Hippie Boy A Girl’s Story: A Memoir and Focus: A Memoir.
Join us at 6:30 p.m. on Wed. Nov. 18 for Unmuted Stories: Readings from a new anthology of memoirs by elder LGBTQI authors and allies. Find the Facebook Event here.