Listening Is A Gift

This is my best attempt at responding to Stephen Cole’s letter (“Don’t Hate Haters,” Feb. 2) about my Viewpoint (“Dear Hateful,” Jan. 26). I do mean “responding.” Responding and reacting aren’t the same.

The productive, even joyous, co-creative way to respond is to discern my authentic needs and speak them in this forum, as best I can, to discern and speak to the needs of my beautiful friends who were with me at October’s Drag Queen Storytime. In speaking, I might find myself speaking needs common to folks everywhere, LGBTQIA+ and otherwise. 

Stephen, here’s why I’m finding it hard to speak my needs honestly, openly and without being insulting: 

Need No. 1: I need to be able to trust that when I’m in dialogue, I’ll be listened to.

By “listened to,” I don’t mean “heard as if it cost you something to pay attention.” I don’t mean “obeyed.” I don’t mean “agreed with, obligingly or otherwise.” I really do mean “listened to.” So let me get right to the point. Stephen, you don’t have to listen to me. It’s your right not to. Listening is a gift that we give one another, after all. But do you get an emotional payoff by refusing to listen? If so, what? Is it worth it? What are you afraid you’d lose if you did choose to listen?

I invite you to reflect on these questions while looking in the mirror for a while. 

Then maybe we can have a real conversation.

Emma Scott Lavin


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