Core Council welcomes first LGBTQ speaker to campus


Courtesy/Saint Anselm Core Council

Core Council students, faculty, and staff pose with Ash Beckham after her presentation in the Dana Center.

Emily Craig, Assistant News Editor

Last week, Saint Anselm College was honored to bring the first LGBTQ speaker to campus, Ash Beckham. Beckham is a dynamic presenter who speaks about empathy, respect, and the power of having real conversations. She has created several TEDx talks, including “Coming Out of Your Closet” and “Owning Your Duality,” that have gone viral with more than 10 million views on YouTube.

Core Council members were thrilled to have Beckham on campus. Jenna Lyons ’20 says, “I think the best part about having Ash here was not just the presentation—although she was amazing and hilarious and had a really great message. It was the fact that so many people came and were willing to listen, and came because they felt she had something to say that was important to them and resonated with them. She gave a lot of students here a voice, and to others she gave empathy and respect. I think by the end of the night, people walked out of the auditorium feeling braver and more open-minded than they had before.”

Beckham’s message focuses on giving voice to your truth, and her hour-long talk in the Dana Center for the Arts on Oct. 13 delved a little deeper into the topic of truth and identity. She began the night by saying how excited she was to be on a campus such as ours.

Having a discussion beforehand with members of the Core Council, Beckham was pleased to hear about what it meant conceptually and actually to be an Anselmian. By having that common core that binds a community together, such as “being an Anselmian,” we have found something that brings us together and allows us to create a community that is respectful and understanding.

During her talk, Beckham used several anecdotes and interactive exercises with the audience to explain what giving voice to your truth means and how each of us can acknowledge and accept our own truths.

For one of the first interactive parts of the night, Beckham asked the audience to cross their arms. She described this as an example of muscle memory. Without thinking about it, each person crosses their arms a certain way. Behavior works the same way. It may be a little uncomfortable or awkward to when thinking about or doing something new and different, but as Beckham said, “It’s not going to kill you. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will get.”

Beckham then went on to discuss the difference between tolerance and acceptance. To examine the definitions given by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of both words, acceptance is agreeing with beliefs or practices different from one’s own while tolerance is simply having the capacity to allow those differences to exist.

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be tolerated,” said Beckham.

Beckham also made use of, a system that allows members of the audience to contribute answers to questions posed by the speaker. The audience can send in their responses via the PollEverywhere app, Twitter, or by texting ASHBECKHAM to a number given at the beginning of the event. One of the questions asked by Beckham that allowed audiences to contribute to the poll were: “Where do you feel safe/unsafe?” Answers were anonymous. Most audience members felt safe when being at home, with friends, alone, or in the library. Most felt unsafe when in environments that were unfamiliar to them.

Beckham used this exercise as a way to describe how difficult it is to not only discover your truth, but also how to find the voice to share it with those around you.

“I’m not here to tell you what the truth is, but what my truth is,” said Beckham. “And the world needs to hear your truth.”

The event was sponsored by the Core Council for LGBTQ & Ally Support, the Multicultural Center, President’s Steering Committee for Diversity and Inclusiveness, Student Activities, the English Department, Dean of Students and Campus Ministry.

Upcoming events sponsored by the Core Council in coordination with the Abbey Players include a film screening of the Abbey Players’ production of “The Laramie Project” in order to get ready for their production of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” This viewing will be held on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Perini Lecture Hall. After the film, there will be free snacks and a discussion with members of the Core Council and the Abbey Players, as well as a chance to win a ticket to the Abbey Player’s production of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.”