Lesbian, equality advocate and all-round awesome person Ash Beckham believes that every single human being on the planet has experienced the stifling darkness of living in a closet. She also believes that we all have the capacity to step out of these closets and live courageously and with authenticity.
In a powerful speech she delivered at TEDxBoulder in September, Beckham opened up about the difficulties she struggled with when she came out of her closet and appealed to the audience to bravely face their demons.
"My closet is no different than yours, or yours, or yours," Beckham said, pointing to random people in the crowd. She went on to say:
Sure, I'll give you a hundred reasons why coming out of my closet was harder than coming out of yours, but here's the thing: Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. Who can tell me that explaining to someone that you just declared bankruptcy is harder than telling someone you just cheated on them? Who can tell me that his coming out story is harder than telling your 5-year-old that you're getting a divorce? There is no harder. There is just hard.
We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else's hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.
Beckham, who said that coming out as gay was the "scariest thing" she had ever done, explained that staying within the confines of one's closet is detrimental to one's health and well-being.
"When you do not have hard conversations, when you keep the truth about yourself a secret, you're essentially holding a grenade," she said, noting that we all need to be "authentic, direct and unapologetic" about who we are.
The video of Beckham's speech has gone viral this week. An inspired and inspiring must-watch, it should come as no surprise that it's garnered more than 3 million views thus far.
"You may feel so very alone, but you are not," Beckham concluded her talk, adding: "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 for a person to truly live."
Watch Beckham's speech in the video above. Trust us, it'll be the most inspiring 10 minutes you'll experience this week.
(Hat tip, Upworthy)