I believe in speaking your truth. I believe in speaking your truth when it’s unpopular and/or uncomfortable. I believe in speaking your truth when it will make your life harder. I believe in speaking your truth always, no matter the potential consequences.
Throughout my life, I have never been drawn to conflict. I will bend over backwards to make a losing situation into a win-win scenario. This has worked well for me; it made me friends and allowed me to feel at ease in many drastically different social situations. Allow me to clarify: this had worked well for me until very recently. The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I began hanging out with new people. These guys made me feel welcome and loved; it was as if I had just gotten five overprotective, older brothers over night. They made me feel comfortable and safe, despite my being the only girl there. Everything was great until one of them called another one a faggot for doing something stupid. When I heard that word it was as if battery acid was being poured into my stomach. This word appalled me. I chose not to speak up for fear of alienating myself in this new group of people, and I dwelled on this choice for the rest of the night. The use of that word, my least favorite word in the entire English language, made me lose respect for these guys that I loved. And even worse, it made me lose respect for myself because I didn’t voice my discomfort.
The next time it happened a little bit differently. Instead of using the word faggot someone said that something was gay, implying that it was stupid. The use of the word gay in a derogatory fashion was nearly as bad as using faggot. I remembered how I had felt the night before when that terrible f-word was used and how much respect I had lost for myself. This time, I spoke up. I told them that using that kind of language was supremely homophobic and hateful, even if they didn’t mean it that way. They were taken aback at first and didn’t really take me seriously, but at that point, the ice was broken. I was now able to bring it up again and again every time they said something similar to the first two instances. I kept letting them know how much it bothered me, and they really tried to change the way they spoke. Now they are more aware of how they speak in the world and around me. I was able to gain back my respect for them, and also for myself.
This experience opened my eyes to two things; the first being that I have to stand up for the things that I believe in, because I can’t count on anyone else to do it. And the second, that though it might be risky or uncomfortable, you must always, without fail, speak your truth.