Speak Your Shame

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Is Courage the Antidote to Shame?

On Friday, Bruce Jenner did an interview with Diane Sawyer. He spoke very courageously for the first time about his transition to becoming a woman. There had been speculation for quite some time prior; however, this was the first time he confirmed it publicly.

He didn’t speak about shame per say but he did say that he didn’t come out prior because he had been an Olympian and felt that he would let people down including his children. He spoke about how he tried to overcompensate for his masculinity as a way to hide is true female identification.

For someone who is a former Olympic athlete, a dedicated hero and a reality tv celebrity to come out and speak about his transition with such honesty and vulnerability takes courage.

Is courage the antidote for shame? It takes courage to speak up about the things we simply want to hide and hope will go away and are afraid to face.  In the interview, his demeanour evolved. In the beginning, he was apprehensive and hesitant; and by the end, it almost seemed like he was a completely different person. He seemed self assured, confident and more importantly happy. It’s as if by him revealing his true identity to the world had allowed his true self to emerge. He no longer had to hide. He’s very fortunate that he has such incredible support in his life from his friends and family and that is all anyone can really ask for. By him having the courage to speak about this, allowed his family the opportunity to show him just how much they really love him and want him to be happy; as acceptance is a barometer of love. His courage to share, allows him to experience the world in a completely different way.

In his words, that was his last interview as Bruce Jenner. Going forward, he will be embodying his true self. I hope the courage he demonstrated in coming out, gives other people who are struggling with similar issues, the permission to do the same.

Note: In the above blog, the pronoun he was used along with his current name because interview was done as Bruce and he has not yet requested to be referred to by a new name or different pronoun.


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Hunger and Shame

Recently Viola Davis spoke at an event while accepting an award for her work with an organization called Hunger Is. She spoke of having been one of the children in the United States who don’t know where their next meal is coming from; currently 17 million children suffer that plight.

She gave an incredibly vulnerable and courageous speech about the various things she did for food: stole, dumpster dived, used people etc. For an A-list celebrity to come out and speak of those things, I highly commend her. She risked ridicule, judgment and a lack of sensitivity but despite all of that she still spoke up. She specifically said in her speech that the word unspeakable should be removed from our vocabulary because everything should be speakable.

I myself have never gone hungry but I can imagine the immense shame and stigma that would come from that. Especially being that we live in a prosperous part of the world, we don’t expect to go hungry; after all its North America, not a developing nation. However, if we don’t speak of these things then we don’t alleviate the shame and we also don’t solve the problem. Viola stated that she got involved with Hunger Is a) to heal herself and b) because they use the word eradicate. She wanted to be a part of an organization that’s mandate was not just to reduce hunger but to eradicate it. Programs, services and organizations wouldn’t exist if people didn’t speak up about the issues they have that require the existence of those organizations in the first place.

I echo Viola’s sentiments – nothing should be unspeakable.

To watch her speech click link below: