“Conversations With People Who Hate Me” is a podcast by gay social justice YouTuber Dylan Marron. In his YouTube videos, Marron discusses topics such as privilege, masculinity and white feminism. Because Dylan speaks in a tone that is different from how some other men speak and because he encourages individuals to examine themselves, some people hate Dylan.

The hateful comments that Dylan receives on his videos are the inspiration behind his podcast. In “Conversations with People Who Hate Me,” Dylan has a discussion with one of his haters, in which they try to better understand each other’s perspectives. Dylan has had conversations with classical liberals, homophobic Christians, and a self-identified “redneck fag.” In each of the episodes thus far, the two parties ended the conversation with greater respect and understanding of each other as people.

Every time I listen to Dylan’s podcast I feel more and more respect for him. What I admire so much about Dylan is that he solidly stands by his beliefs but he never argues with the people who disagree with him. This is not to say that Dylan is a pushover. Rather, he has a finely-tuned sense of his own self-worth and is not afraid to speak up when one of his interlocutors has crossed that line. Dylan understands that to get past the emotion-based language, hyperbole, and platitudes that dominate modern conversation and reach the seed of hatred, arguing does nothing.

In an episode with a religious Christian college student who didn’t believe it was moral for Dylan to live his true identity, Dylan asked the student a simple question: “Is my love not the right kind of love?” To this, the student answered “yes,” but he was at great pains saying it. It was clear during this episode that Dylan’s guest wanted nothing more than to be a friend to Dylan. He was smart, enigmatic, and loving. However, he lived by a core belief that equated to nothing less than hatred. Marron was comfortable in the messy truth that a person with genuinely good qualities could harbor bigoted beliefs, and to this Marron responded with an equally complex tactic: to reinforce the loving qualities he saw in this person with the ultimate goal of forcing him to examine his hatred head on.

I think Marron is doing something culturally important with his podcast, and I hope it continues to gain more traction. The richness of every story that is told in an episode (such as the chilling tale of a southern gay ex-cop’s father being shot by his mother) is more than just eye-opening, it’s disorienting. That’s because Dylan is not just helping his guests to re-examine their beliefs, but he’s doing the same for his listeners. Because while it’s easy to paint the whole of a person in our minds based on one of their internet comments, the truth, as Marron puts it, is always this: “There is a human being on the other side of the computer.”

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