I’m introducing a new Youtube series called, Meeting People Where They Are, where I post raw discussions with people I meet on the road. The goal is understanding and getting people to open up through lack of judgment and assumptions. Judgment shuts down communication while meeting people where they are at opens up communication. Until now I’ve been too shy to ask to record because many of these conversations end up feeling so personal and raw. Something magic just happens in a strangers car.
I met Ira in Tennessee and we connected right away. We talked about sustainable agriculture and tiny homes for a long while and then had the conversation in the video below. Just when I thought our convo was over, he talked about his gay brother. I wish I’d been recording then, he’d already given permission, because his words were words many gay youth need to hear. He’d spent his entire childhood protecting his brother from bullies. He knew his brother was different but didn’t understand why, but he loved his brother and took the role of older protector seriously. When his brother finally came out, he was crushed on hearing that his brother had been too afraid to tell him because of how they grew up. I could hear the pain in his voice so many decades later. I tried to comfort him by helping him understand how hard it is to come out and it wasn’t about him. Then he broke my heart. ‘He was afraid to tell me. After protecting him and loving him all those years and if he was afraid to tell me then that means he was always afraid. He was always afraid, and I couldn’t protect him.’ His voice cracked and he told me he’d never said that before, my eyes tear up even writing it and I’d give anything to have captured that moment followed by the pure happiness on his face as he described how happy his brother is now.
Enjoy this first installment as Ira and I discuss the mountain communities, immigration, and racism. It’s raw, complex, halting, and important.