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'A Closet Is No Place for a Person to Live'

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

Former diner server Ash Beckham uses a story about a child frankly questioning her gender to talk about the necessity that bears upon everyone — gay and straight alike — of having difficult conversations.

“Like many of us,” Beckham tells an audience at a TEDx conference, “I’ve lived in a few closets in my life. And yeah, most often, my walls happen to be rainbow. 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. …

“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 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 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 feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard. At some point in our lives we all live in closets. And they may feel safe, or at least safer than what lies on the other side of that door. But I am here to tell you, no matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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