Ash Beckham: Closets Are Hard Conversations (A TED Talk)

The last time I posted about Ash Beckham she’d done a talk on the harm done when people use the word “gay” inappropriately. (See “‘That’s So Gay’ Not Okay,” which includes the video.)

More recently she’s talking about the stress involved in coming out of the closet—coming out about anything difficult, not just being gay. Beckham admits that her own experiences enabled her to develop empathy not just for the closeted but also for any and all prospective recipients of her and others’ truth. The secret-holder in the coming out exchange, in other words, isn’t the only one needing compassion.

Adam Mordecai, Upworthy, states that Beckham’s TED Talk is about dualism: “the idea that people are complicated and often hold contradicting identities.”

More about this concept: “Dualism is the state of having two parts in simultaneous existence, of seeing more complexity than ‘with us’ or ‘against us.’ It’s a refreshing perspective for our increasingly polarized world. Humans are multifaceted beings, full of contradictions and complications. But society is constantly telling us that we have to pick a side.”

Among other insights offered in Beckham’s dynamic presentation are three things to bear in mind when doing your own coming out.

Watch the talk by Ash Beckham below:

Selected Quotes:

I am 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 the closet is, is a hard conversation.

But inside, in the dark, you can’t tell what color the walls are. You just know what it feels like to live in a closet. So really, my closet is no different than yours, or yours, or yours.

…I guarantee you there are others peering through the keyhole of their closets looking for the next brave soul to bust a door open so be that person, and show the world that we are bigger than our closets, and that a closet is no place for a person to truly live.

To recap the Talk:

  • Everyone has a closet. (Or more than one.)
  • Everyone finds it hard to come out of the closet. Comparing the degree of difficulty is neither possible nor useful.
  • Three tips regarding coming out of the closet: 1. Be authentic, 2. Be direct, and 3. Be unapologetic.
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