The sound of 100 people exclaiming “you are beautiful” echoed through Angell Hall Saturday night at Michael Fowlin”s performance on diversity as audience members turned to recognize the beauty of the individuals around them.

Through his portrayal of several characters ranging from a white teen profiled for wearing a trenchcoat after the Colombine shootings to a special education student who had never been told he was beautiful before, Fowlin addressed what he said was the need of every individual to feel appreciated and treasured for their differences.

The event, titled “You Don”t Know Me Until You Know Me,” dealt with issues including race, discrimination, personal identity, homophobia and suicide.

“This is not new stuff but this is stuff we don”t like to talk about or deal with head on,” Fowlin said. “I hope people walk away with a sense of feeling less alone even if you don”t find yourself within one of the characters you see today. Their pain is very real.”

Fowlin talked about living lives as individuals, breaking stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same.

He said people do not have to preach at others to get the message of acceptance across. Rather, people have to be able to take a stance on where they are individually and then positive atmospheres will form as their influence spreads.

“Taking it into the community starts on individual levels. The important thing is when you”re in dialogue with others, that people start to make small changes within themselves.”

Instead of laughing at jokes that make them feel uncomfortable they can start by just being silent,” he said.

Fowlin challenged audience members to smile at people they would not normally smile at, to try to understand what other mindsets might feel like and to take action to make others feel more accepted.

“Be aware that in the midst of 40,000 people, there are thousands of students that feel alone,” he said, asking participants to consider if their words and actions help solve that problem.

During the discussion following the performance, audience members voiced their concerns about the challenge of seeing others as equally beautiful.

“How do I find beauty in people that have hurt others?” asked Rackham student Lara Zador.

“He answered that everyone is capable of hurting and not hurting and that we”ve all done both. I guess if we knew all we”d forgive all,” she said.

A line of people waited after the show to receive hugs from Fowlin and tell him about their experiences.

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