Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Lana Wachowski's Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award Acceptance Speech Is a Soothing Hand

I want every person, both those who are LGBTQ or their allies and those who are not, to watch director and producer Lana Wachowski's Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award acceptance speech. Her speech proper begins at the 5-minute mark:



I am taking some liberties here and providing two long text quotes from her above acceptance speech.
In high school, I joined the theater department, partially because of my older sister, but mostly because of the storeroom high above the stage amongst the catwalks that was filled with costumes. I fell in love with the storeroom as much for its dust-scented privacy, where I would sit and read, as for the racks of dresses and endless rows of shoes. I remember wearing this beautiful brocaded dress one day with a built-in corset when suddenly I heard the stage manager calling my name. Just before she opened the door, I dove desperately into the shadowed folds between the racked dresses, heart pounding like a mouse, listening to her call my name over and over, praying that somehow I might remain invisible.

As I grew older, an intense, anxious isolation coupled with constant insomnia began to inculcate an inescapable depression. I have never slept much, but, during my sophomore year in high school, while I watched many of my male friends develop facial hair, I kept this strange relentless vigil staring in the mirror for hours, afraid of what one day I might see. Here in the absence of words to defend myself, without examples, without models, I began to believe voices in my head, that I was a freak, that I was broken, that there was something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.

After school, I go to the nearby Burger King, and I write a suicide note. It ends up being over four pages — I'm a little talkative — but it was addressed to my parents, and I really wanted to convince them that it wasn't their fault, it was just that I didn't belong. I cry a lot as I write this note, but the staff at Burger King has seen it all before, and they seem immune.

I was very used to traveling home quite late because of the theater. I know the train platform will be empty at night, because it always is. I let the B train go by, because I know the A train will be next, and it doesn't stop. When I see the headlight, I take off my backpack, and I put it on the bench. It has the note in front of it. I try not to think of anything but jumping as the train comes. Just as the platform starts to rumble, suddenly I notice someone walking down the ramp. It is a skinny, older man wearing overly large, 1970s, square-style glasses that remind me of the ones my grandma wears. He stares at me the way animals stare at each other. I don't know why he wouldn't look away. All I know is that, because he didn't, I am still here.
And also, her closing:
I am here because Mr. Henderson taught me that there are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because, when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn't find anyone like me in the world, and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value.

I know I am also here because of the strength and courage and love that I am blessed to receive from my wife, my family and my friends. And in this way I hope to offer their love in the form of my materiality to a project like this one started by the HRC, so this world that we imagine in this room might be used to gain access to other rooms, to other worlds, previously unimaginable.
I grew up invisible and with a broken heart, aware of my difference from perhaps the age of three, and, although I live on the more typical side of my biological sex's expected presentation at the moment, when I watch Lana, I am validated. I am human, I am accepted, and I am worthy. I know this even without her, but her words hold me, nonetheless. They are the soothing hand on the forehead when the night is long.

And this is precisely why we share our stories, why it is so vitally important to do so. When we offer up truth through storytelling, we spur another's imagination into action, opening up "...other worlds previously unimaginable", and this is the most powerful of liberations.

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