By Sophie Rieckmann
Before you click on the YouTube link I’ve copied in at the bottom of the page, please take a moment to read this post. Then, once you’ve watched the clip, please take a moment to reflect on Andrew Solomon’s words.
I’ve watched a fair few TED talks, as I guess quite a number of you have too. Yes, many of them are fantastic- it’s exhilarating to hear the words of the ordinary and the extraordinary who deliver their advice and experiences right onto your laptop screen. There have been ones I’ve watched about love, fulfilment, science, technology, happiness, marriage, school, education, religion, creativity, procrastination…. the list is endless. Some have caused me to reflect, to read further and to marvel at new information presented to me. But none has had such a profound effect on me as this one.
Although it is framed by the narrative of a gay man trying to make sense of all of the bullying and rejection he has been subjected to over the past 50 years of his life, you do not have to be gay to sympathise with each word, and for this speech to resonate with you.
It is not a plea, a bitter account, or a worshipping of being gay. In fact, it did not become apparent to me that he was gay, until it was explicitly mentioned. This speech is really about tolerance and the power of holding tight to your identity, than it is about simply being gay, and it is delivered in a very measured yet truthful way. Andrew Solomon even thanks his excluder from the second grade. It is a speech about enduring prejudice and learning to transform remorse into something far more practical.
The rest, I shall leave for you to discover. Please do watch this, I really think it will be more than worth your time.