Can the gap between hater and hated ever be bridged? Writer, performer, and video maker Dylan Marron asks that question in a new podcast in which he converses with those who have sent him hate mail. It offers us all some useful lessons.
Marron first came to my attention as the voice of Carlos the Scientist in the weird and wonderful (and deeply queer) Welcome to Night Vale podcast—but he has a history of even more pointed social justice work, including the video series Every Single Word, which delves into the striking lack of people of color in Hollywood feature films, and Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People, a talk show with trans people to show how very not scary it is to be in the bathroom with them. A self-described “soft-spoken brown queer man,” he also launched the #QueerSelfLove hashtag in the wake of the Orlando shootings.
As an outspoken social justice advocate on the Internet, he’s received his share of hate mail. In “Conversations With People Who Hate Me,” he reaches out to interview some of the people who have sent him these letters, and asks them “Why?” In his soft-spoken way, he works to understand (and be understood by) the other person, sometimes helping them to reflect on their own motivations. They may not always change their minds, but sometimes we see a bit of light from where they’ve opened up a bit. More importantly for us, Marron models how we can have these sometimes difficult conversations with people whose views on certain topics are often diametrically opposed to our own.
In his special episode on Charlottesville, he affirms that a single conversation or podcast won’t erase the hate we see today. “But I do believe one conversation is a start,” he says. Bravo to him for showing us how it can be done.
Below is the series trailer; find the rest on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.