When Neuroanatomists Get Massive Strokes & Shame Resilience Researchers Get Shamed

In case you missed it, a video segment of Brene Brown from her recent Super Soul Sunday episode (on Oprah's OWN Network) got posted this weekend on UpWorthy. It caused quite a stir.

Brown's Twitter and Facebook accounts lit up on Sunday night as viewers took to social media to respond. Later that evening, she posted a blog article called "Teachers, Shame and Worthiness: A Lesson Learned." It was a clarification and an apology in response to the comments.

Some of the comments made to her were pretty shaming themselves. One person on Twitter said Brene earned no right to speak. Here is a shame resilience researcher, getting shamed publicly.

Certainly part of this is because once you get famous enough, no matter how well-loved and well respected you are, there will always be people who dislike you or disagree with you. But I got to thinking, I believe there is more to this. There have been multiple accounts of people whose life work revolves around something big and sometimes they end up experiencing what they study.

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How Do I Know When to Come Out?

How Do I Know When to Come Out?

This is a question most of us lesbian, gay and bi people ask ourselves at some point. And there is not one answer that fits all scenarios.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately, and at times I wonder if certain chapters in my life would have been easier if I would have been willing to come out of the closet sooner than I did.

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Lesbian Health 101

Many lesbian women go to the OB/GYN for their annual exam and, unless previously established otherwise, their health care provider assumes they are straight.

That leaves us lesbian women with a choice: to disclose or not to disclose our sexuality.

I've told the story before of my experience with health care as a lesbian woman, but for those of you who don't know: I was diagnosed with "ego dystonic homosexuality" in 2009, I have been spoken to with medical ignorance during a follow-up visit for a borderline pap test, and have been met with assumptions of heterosexuality by my health care provider.

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Stepping into Empathy

So many times we go about our day so focused on our own internal process that we forget everyone else is dealing with their "stuff," too. It's a good reminder for all of us, as we interact, to consider the journey of those around us and create space for empathy in our lives.

The beautiful message of empathy is "me, too" versus sympathy's message of "poor you."

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10 Things I Wish I Knew About Myself When I Was Growing Up

I've been immersed in working on self-care these last few months, as a result of some old "stuff" that has reared its head.

It's been an opportunity to really dive deep into what it means to take care of myself, love myself, be tender with myself, and look at myself from the perspective of my higher self. I've realized that along the way I've picked up messages about what it means to be me in context of the world, and what it means to be "good" and "right." Some of these messages go completely against what I know to be true about myself in the deepest and most profound way.

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TWBP Interviews Bob Merrick: Host of The Baub Show

I had the huge pleasure of interviewing Bob Merrick.

BobMerrick
BobMerrick

He is host of The Baub Show on UBN radio. I was a guest on his show in April and wrote about my experience as well as linked to my interview here.

Bob has a wide variety of guests on his radio show, but they all have one common theme: Bob and his guest co-hosts accentuate the positive in life. He brings attention to stories, organizations, people, and groups who are a positive influence in our world. He's a great person: fun, generous and making a huge difference in our world.

Here's The We Belong Project's interview with the talented Bob Merrick:

TWBP: Bob, thank you so very much for being willing to sit down and give us some insight into your life and work. I had so much fun being a guest on your show and knew I wanted to know more about you and the work you do. So what's your favorite part of your job? 

Bob: Connecting and sharing with people and getting to meet and interview people like yourself!

TWBP: Thank you! Who has been your favorite person to interview and why?

Bob: Well, when it comes to "pinch me" moments, I still can't believe that I have had people like Wynonna Judd, Sandra Bernhard, and Guy Pearce on my show. But an interview that really meant a lot to me was with Geri Jewell. Most people remember her as Cousin Geri from The Facts of Life, which of course was why I was excited to meet her. But as I read her book and got to know her, I was completely blown away by this woman, who since the second she was born pre-maturely with cerebral palsy, has had to fight to live. Just imagine that for a moment. Since the second she was born, she has had to fight to live. We all take life for granted and here was this woman, that has overcome obscene amounts of physical and verbal abuse, struggled with sexuality and a manager that took all of her money who, when you meet her, has a smile that can light up a room, is hysterically witty and funny and has made a choice, in spite of it all, to live. I took so much away from that interview and just cherish her now.

TWBP: I love that you not only enjoy your guests but get inspired by them, as well. How has your experience of being an out gay man been working in the professional arena?

Bob: I have always had the attitude that when you meet me, you meet Bob first and foremost. The fact that I am gay is just part of the packaging that comes with me, the same as my hair color, my shoes, my voice, whatever it is. So I have always had the attitude that not everyone needs to like me and if it is because I am gay, then I will do my best to have them get to know me and if they still don't like me, that is on them and I am okay with that. At least I tried. So with that attitude, I have never gone into a work situation thinking that my being gay would be an issue and I think because of that, it has never been an obstacle. Of course, it helps that I'm 6'3" and built like an ox!

TWBP: LOL! You are not only tall, but handsome, as well.  How was the coming out process for you?

Bob: I think I got lucky, especially when you consider it was the early 90s and there weren't a lot of examples for me to follow. I think the hardest person I had to come out to was myself. No one else was really surprised!

TWBP: I love that you addressed that the most important, and sometimes hardest person to come out to, is yourself. I could not agree more. Do you remember how your coming out happened?

Bob: I was working at a video distribution center and I had been obsessed with Billy Baldwin for months. While watching the movie Sliver, I had had this electric moment in my body, which I took as a sign I had finally found a male role model after years of following Madonna around. So I did all of these crazy things to emulate him, including dying my hair dark brown to match his. It's hilarious when I look back on it. One day I was working with a woman named Karen Hughes, who was a wonderfully open and proud lesbian, and I was putting up a display for Sliver and probably going on about Billy for the trillionth time, when she finally just asked me, If I could go on a date with anyone famous, who would it be? And I asked, "A romantic date or a friend date?" and she said, "Both." So I immediately said, "Bette Midler! What I wouldn't give to spend the evening listening to her tell stories all night!" As I told you, everyone knew but me! Then I paused and thought for a moment and finally said, "For a romantic date, it would be Billy Baldwin." And that was all I said. I just remember her closing the cash register till and saying we should take a break. She put her arm around me and walked me out to the back of the store while we continued our conversation. I will never forget her or that moment for as long as I live.

Not only did I come out in that moment, but I also learned the importance of kindness and letting someone find their own way. You can never make someone do something they aren't ready for, but because she provided me with a safe and kind space, I was able to find my own way. I guarantee, had she asked me point blank if I were gay, I'd have said absolutely not. I wish I knew where she was today so I could let her know how important that moment was for me.

TWBP: That is beautiful and very well said. Who would you say inspires you the most?

Bob: The single person that has had the greatest impact on my life would be my Aunt Heidi. I was about 16 when she came into my life, but it was really around 19 that she took this confused, lost, eager, wide-eyed and sad piece of rough diamond, that I think anyone else would've discarded as damaged coal, and polished me up into all that I have become. She helped my light to shine in a way I don't know it would have otherwise. She has inspired so many of my choices in life from the silly things like the wine and cheese I like, to relationships, jobs, how I dress, how I decorate. Truly, I would not be who I am today without her.

TWBP: Aunt Heidi sounds like she's an aunt we could all use. So, Bob, The We Belong Project talks a lot about healthcare and providing cultural safety to the LGBTQ population. How have you been treated by health care providers?

Bob: I think living in Los Angeles, I have been very lucky. It also helps that we now have things like Yelp and the internet, where we can really share our recommendations and bad experiences with others. I don't think I have gone to a single healthcare professional in 15 years that wasn't a firsthand recommendation. That being said, I spent 9 months last year in North Carolina and I am not sure what I would have done had I gotten really ill. I know most people wouldn't think that way and honestly, I rarely think that way, but when you are in a part of the country where people's views aren't quite as open, you become hyper aware of such things.

It is interesting when I look back that the few therapists I have had over time have all been heterosexual and have all been great with me, but I can vividly remember the moment with each of them that I had to be clear with them and gauge their reaction.Your health, whether mental or physical, is your most intimate and personal part of yourself. It's your body. The only one you get in your entire life on Earth and you are at your most vulnerable at the doctor's because you are typically there when something is wrong. You need to know you are safe and can be open about anything that is going on in your life, because there is no room for judgement at a time like that; the focus needs to be on the situation. I have been fortunate enough to avoid the discrimination, but it is a palpable concern.

TWBP: YES! You nailed it, Bob. I would like to say that you are an inspiration for me and for many people in terms of "making it," i.e. following your dreams and creating a great platform with a wide audience that accentuates the positive in life. What would your advice be to me or anyone else who has big dreams of making a difference but isn't sure where to start?

Bob: That is so funny, because I feel like I am just doing it so late in life! My number one piece of advice is DREAM BIG. It takes a lot to achieve your dreams and if you dream small, you'll be limiting yourself. It may also be an indication of how little you think of yourself. Dream big and believe you can do it, that you are worthy and capable. Dreaming big does not mean you are guaranteed to make it, but the bigger the dream, the more it will seep into everything you do and that is what creates a successful journey.Because that is what it is all about, right? The journey, not the end! Even right now, I realized once again, I didn't dream big enough. My dream was to have a morning radio show and teach aerobics in the evening. That seemed so far fetched to me, but I am already there. That doesn't mean I am even close to my end game, though, which means I didn't dream big enough. So now I have just started writing in my journal Become the next Ryan Seacrest times ten because that man knows how to dream BIG!

TWBP: That is awesome! You are so insightful and you have proven to be a very effective manifester of your dreams. I love that you brought up loving yourself. This is huge for many of us. You wrote a column called "Love Handles" for Out Magazine. This chronicled your experience with your own body in terms of self-acceptance, health, love, and dating. I LOVED this story and it moved me to read the last chapter, especially. Many of us struggle with self acceptance when we live in a society that would have us believe we are not acceptable. What can you tell us about your experience with self acceptance and loving your body?

Bob: I can tell you enough to write a book! I have learned that you can't compare yourself to anyone else. Your thighs, your nose, your hair, your stomach. None of it. You can only compare yourself to you. Are you better than you were a year ago? Then you are doing good. Are you thinner than you were a year ago? Then carry on. If there are things that you aren't happy with yourself, you have the power to change them. But you have to do it from a place of kindness. I still struggle with my weight, but nothing like I used to because I am kind to myself. I used to be so mean to myself when clothes wouldn't fit or the scale jolted me to an alarming reality, and all that would do is make me feel worse and eat more and gain more. I have learned that my weight doesn't define me and that I am a good person above all. There are years I am in great shape and looking good and years that I have lost touch with myself, but the constant is that I am a good person and for years, I believed that being overweight also meant I was a bad person. So my number one lesson, be kind to yourself. That doesn't mean you deserve a piece of cake, but it does mean you deserve to smile when you look in the mirror. Everything else is relative.

TWBP: Kindness. Yes. Also? I think you should write that book! :) Speaking of which, what are your goals for the future?

Bob: Well now that I have said it, I guess to be bigger than Ryan Seacrest! Honestly, to continue to grow my audience. To use my platform to create dialogue and conversation about change, understanding, compassion, equality. I will never hit anyone on the head about equality, because I don't believe that is how it is effectively done. I believe if you want to be treated equal, you need to behave equal, and that is the conversation I hope my show creates.

TWBP: Well, you are already bigger than Ryan Seacrest in my opinion. I so admire and appreciate your worldview and the kindness, knowledge, and love that you emanate. I know you will continue to grow your platform and will continue to be a beautiful agent for lasting, positive change. One last thing before you go. Can you give the readers at The We Belong Project a random fact about you? 

Bob: Everyone knows that I have been a huge Madonna fan since I was 10 years old. I've loved her as an entertainer and she's in the top 5 people that have influenced me on my journey. That being said, she is the only person I never want to meet. Not to say I would avoid it ever happening, but I would never go out of my way.

TWBP: Interesting! Well, I can imagine that soon one day, she will want to meet YOU! :) Bob, thank you so very much for your time and your thoughtful insight into your life and your driving beliefs. As I said earlier, you are an inspiration to me and I am happy to know there are people like you in our world, and in our family. Much love to you on your journey.

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You can tune in to hear Bob Merrick on UBN Radio Weekdays from 9-11am (PST). Also you can follow Bob on Twitter on @TheBaubShow. You can also find him on FaceBook

ABOUT THE BAUB SHOW:

THE BAUB SHOW is the official morning show at UBN Radio and features Jeff Schroeder from Big Brother and The Amazing Race as co-host. Broadcasting live Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11am (PST) with a "Best of the Week" show on Fridays, the show then lives in the station’s online archives and on iTunes as a free podcast. While Bob Merrick has been doing this show for the last 4 years, it is at his new home of UBN Radio that he is excited to be bringing in an average of 80,000 listeners/downloads a week to the station. THE BAUB SHOW focuses on the positive side of pop culture and human interest stories without misbehaving starlets, politics or gossip. Notable guests have included musicians Macy Gray, Gavin DeGraw, Jane Wiedlin, David Archuleta, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick from N’SYNC; actors Neve Campbell (Scream), Anna Farris (House Bunny), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Retta (“Parks and Recreation”), Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie), Elizabeth Mitchell (“Lost”; “Revolution”); Celebrity chefs Michael Voltaggio (“Top Chef” winner) and Ludo Lefebvre (“The Taste”); authors Jenny Lawson (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened), Josh Kilmer-Purcell (The Fabulous Beekman Boys);

ABOUT THE HOST:

Host Bob Merrick dove in head first into the Hollywood scene seventeen years ago, working behind the scenes on such films as Wild Wild West, Deep Impact, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Three Kings, 13 Going on 30, Rent, Across The Universe and most recently, Iron Man 3 for Marvel Studios. In 2005, he wrote a bi-weekly column called “Love Handles” for Out.com, chronicling his struggles with body image and finding love as well as celebrity interviews and entertainment features for the magazine. In addition to cameos in “Kathy Griffin’s My Life On The D-List” and VH1’s “My Fair Brady”, Merrick was most excited appearing as a featured dancer in Richard Simmon’s iconic DVD series, Sweatin’ to the Oldies 5. He is currently the voice in an in-development cartoon series called, The Toadalees, which was created by Mark Johnson and is being produced by Lance Bass. Having formed deep relationships along the way with notable Hollywood personalities, it was only a matter of time until he found the right platform to share his passion for pop culture. With an authentic and larger than life personality, big heart and open mind, Merrick’s character is a natural fit as a host of The Baub Show on UBN Radio. In addition to his own weekly show, he can often be heard co-hosting Dirty Pop with Lance Bass on SiriusXM 108.

Leaning In To My Best Self: A Response To Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg

I just finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. And I'm fired up and inspired.

If you've not yet read this book, I'd highly recommend it. Sheryl is the COO of Facebook. Her book brilliantly brings to attention the lack of equality for women in the workplace, along with women's own reluctance to "lean in" to their careers and lives. My favorite part of the book is her contribution to the conversation around equality, not only in the workplace but in our society as a whole.

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How my bathroom mirror helps me love myself.

I have a handwritten note taped to my bathroom mirror that says, "I accept myself unconditionally right now. I love myself. I am safe".

I've been on a mission to cultivate more self love in my life.

With all the tapes I have running in my head that add up to feeling insecure, inadequate, or simply not enough, I use this reminder and say it out loud as I look at myself in the mirror. It's a way to help create new brain pathways that help me believe I am actually lovable, good enough, and that I'm worth accepting just as I am in each moment. (Special thanks for the inspiration, Louise Hay and Dr. Christiane Northrup).

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Mother's Day 2013: Why I Love My Mother and How Our Love Makes Me Brave

I've always been extremely attached to my Mother.

As a small child, I'd cling to her leg whenever anyone tried to talk to me. I'd bury my face in her green fuzzy nightgown when she went on a date night with my Dad, and I'd cry for her to come home. She'd wear that fuzzy green nightgown in the mornings when I'd ask her to make me "ice cream of wheat" for breakfast. She'd always send me my school lunch with a bite taken out of my sandwich (because it looked so good when she was making it) and a note on my napkin. There has always been something so nurturing about my Mom.

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Why no one in health care is listening to you.

I walked into a patient room last week and he was on the phone. I thought to myself, "oh, he'll get off the phone now that he sees that I'm here.". Nope. He kept talking. And talking. Long enough that I felt awkward and like I was listening to a conversation I shouldn't be privy to. I felt totally disrespected, like he didn't value the appointment, or my time, or me. I even thought to myself for a quick second that I didn't deserve his attention as my patient anyway. I didn't know what to do, so I just sat there, playing with the computer mouse. When he finally got off the phone, he made some small comment as a shallow apology and put his phone away. Of course, I didn't know what to say so I said, "oh, it's ok". Actually, it wasn't ok. Not at all. He was completely disengaged. And it felt awful. Later that day, I started thinking about myself as a health care provider and how I engage or disengage with patients. I remembered times when I may have come across to my patients as disengaged. How, I've walked into the room with a diagnosis already "figured out" and I'm looking for the history/information to back up my diagnosis. All before I even meet the patient. My nurse tells me, "this patient is complaining of _____" and I think to myself, "oh, it's this. or that. but most likely *this*. Let's see if I'm RIGHT. I have other patients waiting so I hope this is quick." (Thankfully I haven't done this often.)

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The Day My Doctor Diagnosed Me as a Homosexual

Last year, I sat in the exam room with my doctor. She was new to me and I really liked her. As she talked with me, I glanced over her shoulder to the computer screen that was lit up with my electronic medical record. In the list of my diagnosis I saw, "ego dystonic homosexuality."

My gut sank. I was shocked, angry and scared all at the same time.

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The Way You Ask Questions Matters, Doesn't It?

I've been a nurse practitioner since 2011, and in that short time, my practice has shown me over and over that how I ask my patients questions matters. A lot.

I've had patients who have had the grace and understanding to tell me when I've asked questions in a way that lands as insensitive or culturally unsafe. And I know that for each patient who has told me when I've been unintentionally insensitive, I've most certainly had patients who haven't said a darn thing. Maybe they left my office swearing they'd never come back. Or worse, maybe they felt bad about themselves.  Note that as a provider, it's NOT the patient's job to point out your ignorance or lack of knowledge, but sometimes you can learn a lot about providing better care when they do

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Good News Round Up!

The last few weeks have been some of amazing news and progress for the LGBT community.

Today I'd like to give you a quick round up of what I found to be inspiring and good news!

These are just a few of the stories making headlines that I was happy to read about this month.

In a world where we can sometimes get caught up in what's not working, it's so wonderful to stop and acknowledge what is working and the progress that is being made. We are making history, friends. And I couldn't be more happy to be a part of it. I'm thankful today for the leaders who stand up for human rights and the everyday people who are heroes because they choose to speak up for their beliefs.

Photo Credit.

"That's So Gay" Speaker Ash Beckham Takes Us Behind the Scenes Of Her Ignite Boulder Speech

Ash Beckham is going viral. The Boulder, Colorado resident is firing up the interwebs with her wildly shared video of a speech she presented at Ignite Boulder, titled "That's So Gay."

Beckham not only inspired the 850 people in attendance at the Ignite Boulder event on February 21, 2013, but she's quickly becoming a household name within the LBTGQ-and-allies population worldwide. In her 5-minute speech focusing on the importance of language in establishing a safe and caring culture wherever we go, she manages to be witty, provocative, and heartfelt. Using clip art, flow charts, and perfect timing, she came out all over again on the Boulder stage as an absolute natural born leader and LGBTQ advocate.

In case you haven't yet seen "That's So Gay" for yourself, here's the video.

As of the date of this publication, the video's already had well over 300,000 views on YouTube.

I'm honored to bring you a behind-the-scenes interview with Ash Beckham, especially for The We Belong Project readers. I asked her about her LGBTQ advocacy, what inspired her rousing speech, who inspires her, and so much more.

This month may be the first time you've heard of Ash Beckham, but it most definitely will not be the last.

Here's our interview:

TWBP: Congratulations on your amazing Ignite Boulder speech. It's getting amazing attention and helping to spread the message about how important our word choices are. I so appreciate you being willing to answer a few questions about yourself and your point of view on advocacy for the LGBTQ community. First of all, what's your background in LGBTQ advocacy?  

ASH: I have been active in the community for 20 years but never as a leader or an advocate. Living a very out life and speaking directly to injustices I faced or witnessed personally was the extent of my advocacy. More one on one than big picture.

TWBP:How did your Ignite Boulder speech come about? What inspired you and how did you decide on this topic?

ASH: I went to Ignite Boulder 19 with a friend on a whim last December. We didn't have tickets, but bought some at the door. I was floored by the first speaker. It was a guy who talked about his ups and downs with weight loss. He was incredibly charming and slightly awkward and 100% authentic. And I thought, I can definitely do awkward and hopefully charming. Not really sure what I was going to say. One of the topics that I feel passionate about and personally connected to is gay rights. So my topic was "something gay." I decided that night that I would do the next Ignite expecting it to be in about 4 months. But 3 weeks later, Ignite posted that the next one would be February 21, which was about 6 weeks away. This time they did a nomination process so I bugged a buddy of mine to nominate me. She didn't even know that topic but must have made me sound glorious because about 2 weeks later I got an email that said I had made the cut and they wanted a brief idea of my concept.  At that point, my idea had morphed into tolerance vs. acceptance. Then the incident at my gym happened and that became the focus. As I started to do research (for images mostly), I came upon a plethora of information and materials by amazing organizations aimed to eliminate the word ["that's so gay," used as a pejorative] from schools.

TWBP:  In your speech, you managed to be kind, approachable, intelligent, and incredibly profound and inspiring. I think if more people approached important issues in this style, we could make progress in a more meaningful and progressive way. What was your mindset when you wrote your speech?

ASH:  Thanks! I knew that the room I was walking into was not exactly a gay bar. It's Boulder, it's progressive, but I knew there would be folks in the room who had never even thought of this topic before. I did not want to sound preachy or soapbox-y. I also wanted to maintain the seriousness of my topic. I honestly believe that the vast majority of folks that use "gay" in a pejorative way are not cruel or hateful or homophobic.  They truly don't know that their words hurt. Through a personal connection with someone (me, in this case) and just explaining to folks that they are impactful, that their words matter, people can change. They want to change. No one wants to be a jerk. Well, at least most folks don't. My point was, "Hey, I can't stop you from saying it. I want you to know the effect it has. If you still want to use the term, you at least know what you are doing." Most folks start to change once they know better. The people that say "so gay" in spite of that knowledge are folks that may be unmovable.

TWBP: What was your coming out process like?

ASH: Not too tough. It took me until college to figure it out. But once I did there was no question. My sister was on board from the get go. My parents took a bit longer. They needed to get their minds around the fact that the life they had envisioned for their daughter was going to go off script. They are absolutely amazing now and have been for years. I have a business with them back in the Midwest and we work together every summer. We are very close. They watched the stream live from Florida on vacation. My mom cried.

TWBP: Who inspires you?

ASH:Ellen [DeGeneres] for sure. She is very charming and disarming with her humor. It's hard for opponents to make her a villain. And her sexuality is a side note, as it should be. Also, my family (both given and chosen), for their tireless dedication to being authentically who they are. I am so incredibly lucky to have amazing folks in my life.

Truly this speech was inspired by all the nieces and nephews I have in my life. In the last 3 years, that population [kids who have gay parents, relatives, or loved ones] has exploded. Looking at those kids who have 2 moms or me as a lesbian aunt and knowing that they are going to have a hard time because they love me was really hard to take. The need for change became more urgent. I have 10 years to do my best so that the environment that exists when those kids get to middle school is as welcoming as possible. The clock is ticking.

TWBP: What's your favorite comeback or redirect when someone makes an inappropriate or culturally unsafe remark?

ASH: That is so hard. Certainly depends on the context. I make an initial safety judgement of my surroundings. If I am going to say something, I really try to say it gently or with a bit of humor. When I was younger, I would approach the situation aggressively and attempt to inflict the same kind of pain on that person that I was feeling from their remarks. It's different now. There are certainly situations where you make a strong stand like that. But in most situations, I feel like the best way to make change happen is through conversation. And I have rarely had a good one that starts from yelling or attacking, even if that is their first move. I have dated my fair share of therapists so usually I start with, "So what I hear you saying is . . ."

TWBP: Who are some of your favorite advocacy leaders?

ASH: Truly I would say the local folks at GSAs [Gay-Straight Alliance] or schools that are fighting the fight every day. Trying to change the world from their doorstep. That is tireless, often thankless work. But it is the difference. That is where change happens. One person at a time. And that doesn't come from legislation. That comes from peers and mentors and leaders making a stand!

TWBP: What would you tell a sexual minority person who is struggling with coming out due to fear of societal backlash?

ASH: It depends on the context. If you are a kid that is still in high school or middle school, you are a dependent in so many ways. And education is critical. And to borrow a phrase, it does get better. There is plenty of time to come out. Assess the safety of your situation. If you feel like you will have allies, get them lined up. Use all of the resources in your community to make that easier. I think kids have great gut instincts. If you feel safe, you probably are. If you don't, you probably are not. And it depends on personal need. Everyone hits a point in their life where they MUST come out and consequences be damned. It's such an individual decision. I would say, take care of yourself. Whatever that takes!

TWBP: You've become an instant celebrity and inspiration for many of us. What's next for you?

ASH: Ha!  Still trying to figure that out. The feedback from across the country and around the world has been so amazing. I would like to continue to spread the word. Working with schools and groups to continue to make this change happen. I am speaking at a few events locally in Colorado in the next month or so. Then doing some virtual meetings with groups around the country. The possibilities and opportunities are overwhelming right now. But I can say the course of my life has been irreversibly changed. In the most amazing way.

TWBP: Anything else you can share about yourself?

I just want to give a quick shout out to my close friends and family in Boulder and around the country. Without their unwavering support, I would never have the confidence to have done any of this!

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Ash, we are so very honored and thankful for this sneak peek into your world. Thank you so much for making such a positive impact in our society.

Ash can be found on her Website, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.

If you enjoyed this interview with Ash, please leave us a comment. Where have you yourself been an advocate for more cultural safety in your day to day life? How are you trying to make the world a happier and safer place for all people?

Bio: Ash Beckham is an energetic and dynamic public speaker.  Her YouTube video, “I am SO GAY” has garnered 350,000+ view in less than 2 weeks.  The video has been shown in classrooms and boardrooms around the globe increasing the number of actual views to well over 500,000.   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.

Photo Credit of Ash Beckham courtesy of Will Ruple Studios.

Social Change & The Law: Gay Marriage and Human Rights

A florist in Washington State recently made headlines when, after years of providing her florist services to a gay couple, refused to provide services for their wedding, citing it would be a betrayal of "her relationship with Jesus Christ."

In 2007, when my ex-wife and I were planning our wedding, we had a printing business accept our request for printing our invitations. It wasn't until they went to print them that they realized the ceremony was for two women getting married. They called our invitation designer, saying they refused to print our invitations. This left us scrambling to find a printer who would be able to get them done in time.

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Substance Abuse Among the WSW Population

Does the WSW population have a higher rate of substance abuse than the general population?

This is an excellent question and one that needs more research to accurately answer. However, it is believed that women of sexual minority do,in fact, have a higher rate of substance abuse than the general population.

Higher substance abuse rates among sexual minority women makes sense given the social stigma, marginalization, and discrimination of the population in our society.

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