TED speaker Ash Beckham to give voice to Grizzlies’ truth

By Oona Goodin-Smith

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them and some are just trying to learn to squat.

The latter was the case for waitress Ash Beckham as she worked with a trainer at her local gym in Boulder, Colo. learning to lift weights. As her trainer was teaching technique, another came up behind him and said “You never better touch me like that, dude. That’s so gay.”

This became the catalyst for a five-minute humorous talk discussing the harmful use of the pejorative phrase and “reclaiming the lexicon” for an audience of 825 in Boulder and another 500,000 on YouTube when the video went viral. Her presentation at TedxBoulder currently has well over five million views. 

“I’m really an accidental advocate,” said Beckham, a Toledo native. “When you live a certain way, dress a certain way and assume a certain gender identity, I go into the world and I am out.”

Since her initial Internet success in 2013, Beckham has developed her message of “giving voice to your truth” and creating greater empathy and acceptance for all, speaking around the country in TED Talks and Harvard’s first-ever LGBTQ conference in January 2014. 

She says she aims for a world where “we can live where we’re not in closets, where we’re not afraid of other people’s judgments, other people’s perceptions, where we can be self-accepting” and is bringing that message to Oakland University this Wednesday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. in the Banquet Rooms of the Oakland Center.

“I saw her [speak] last semester and truly loved her message. She is a fantastic speaker and really connects with her audience,” said Hannah Clark, president of the event’s host, the Student Life Lecture Board (SLLB) in partnership with the Gender and Sexuality Center.

“I commend the SLLB for joining the GSC in bringing Ash Beckham to campus,” said Becca Reichenbach, president of the GSC’s Gay-Straight Alliance. “It shows that leaders of OU are acknowledging the LGBTIQA+ community more and more and I hope to see students – ones who have never given thought to being an equality advocate – come out of the Banquet Rooms with new hearts and ideas on how to better the world for those around them.”

The event is free and no tickets are required. For more information, call the Center for Student Activities at 248-370-2400. For more on Ash, visit ashbeckham.com.