I am a big fan of Upworthy, whose contributors post a continuous stream of stories about “Things that matter”. Recently Adam Mordecai posted a link to a TED talk that rocked my socks. No wonder it has gone viral. Ash Beckham told the Boulder audience:
I’m going to talk to you tonight about coming out of the closet, and not in the traditional sense, not just the gay closet. I think we all have closets. Your closet may be telling someone you love her for the first time or telling someone that you’re pregnant or telling someone you have cancer or any of the other hard conversations we have throughout our lives. All a closet is is a hard conversation. And although our topics may vary tremendously, the experience of being in and coming out of the closet is universal. It is scary, and we hate it, and it needs to be done.
Beckham’s stories of being asked if she were a boy or a girl by children at a café where she worked are hilarious. So is her account of her sister’s wedding and the awkwardness at a table where some of her parents’ friends were bending over backwards to let her know they were aware she was a lesbian and they were OK with it. I got tears in my eyes when she acknowledged that their starting the conversation, awkward as it was, was their coming out of one of their closets.
She cautioned the audience we must stop ranking “hard”. Whatever closet we are in, the journey from hiding to openness is just plain hard. Yet the strain of remaining in the supposed safety of our closets takes an unbearably heavy toll.
Beckham has three simple, but never easy, rules for coming out of the closet:
- Be authentic
- Be direct
- Be unapologetic (about your truth)
Spend eleven minutes watching this video. It just might be the hand you need to open the door to whatever closet you are hiding in, the gentle boost to be your authentic self. And after you have watched this video, check out some of her other talks, such as the one about the word “gay” and the difference between tolerance and acceptance or her talk for an International Family Equality meeting.
I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of Ash Beckham. She gives me hope.