Our guest blogger Ash Beckham is an energetic and dynamic public speaker. Her YouTube video, “I am SO GAY” (below blog) has garnered 350,000+ views in less than 2 weeks. By blending honesty and humor, Ash delivers unforgettable talks about why we need to remove the word “gay” as a pejorative from our lexicon. Through a personal connection with her audience, Ash inspires people to individually change and be part of a bigger societal shift toward conscious word choice.
Before this I would never have considered myself an LGBTQ activist. An advocate for sure, but not an activist. My efforts in the past have been on an inter-personal, one-on-one level. I reacted to injustices I saw in my local community or ones that I experiences. I voted for candidates that stand for equality. I live a very out life. That was my form of advocacy.
Then I went to Ignite Boulder 19 with a buddy on a whim. Ignite Boulder is a night of presentations where speakers have exactly 5 minutes to teach something, enlighten us, or simply inspire — backed by 20 slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Ingite Boulder events we sell out the largest venues in Boulder. We didn’t have tickets but thought it would be a cool event and found someone selling extras at the door. The first speaker that night was so compelling. He was my favorite. His spark (what they call each individual topic/presentation) was on his roller coaster ride with weight loss. His passion about his topic was something I knew I had in me. He was funny and awkward and incredibly charming. My first thought was: I know I can do awkward, hopefully I can do charming! I decided that night that I would do the next one. I fully expected it to be in May because the events were typically about 6 months apart. But in early January Ignite Boulder posted that the next one was February 21 (only 6 weeks later). This time they were taking entries by nomination. I called another buddy of mine and asked her to nominate me. She didn’t even know my topic. We both knew it would be about something about an issue that impacts people who are gay, but I had little clarity beyond that. She must have nailed the nomination, because about 2 weeks later I got an email that said, “You sound great. Will you send us your topic?” So at that point I had come down to tolerance vs. acceptance as the next stage of the advancement of gay rights. Then later that week the incident in the gym happened and the vision became crystal clear.
My main motivation to speak out publicly is the recent and dramatic increase of little kids in my life. My sister and many of my closest friends have had kids in the last 4 years. The fact that they will get teased or worse because they love me and I am in their life is such a weighty concern for me. As this speech was coming together I realized I had 10 years to make middle school a better place for those kids and many other kids. The clock is ticking. That’s was a pretty strong motivator for me. To be honest, I did envision the scope of the speech reaching the outer limits of Boulder, maybe a few folks from Denver would even be in the audience. But I never imagined that my video would be seen but hundreds or thousands of people around the world. I feel humbled and honored to find myself in this new role. I’m not sure where this path with lead, but I can say without question the course of my life has been irreversibly altered in the most amazing way. I am ecstatic for the journey. And take very seriously my responsibility to my LGBT community and to those kids that I love so much!
Don’t miss Ash’s live video address on International Family Equality Day, this Sunday, May 5. Click here on Sunday to get access to the website for the live feed!