The hashtag #StayWeird went viral last night following screenwriter Graham Moore's acceptance speech for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the ethos, the connotation of that sentiment really struck a cord with me.
"When I was 16 years old I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong, and now I’m standing here,” said Moore. ”I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along.”
While Moore may not identify as gay, his words spoke to the lgbtq community and they spoke to me. Alan Turing, reimagined in Graham's film The Imitation Game, was a brilliant man who aided the British in defeating the Nazis on many occasions, including the Battle of the Atlantic. He was a pioneer in the field of computer science, and is considered by many as the father of artificial intelligence.
However, Alan Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952 and was 'treated' with chemical castration in leu of prison. Sadly he was found dead from cyanide poisoning only a few weeks before his 42nd birthday. His story, with striking similarities to Snow White, has captured the masses; the disdainful treatment because of his sexual orientation is something that rings true to many, especially those fighting for marriage equality.
And, no doubt, Moore's brave speech spoke to those who have lost friends and family to depression.
“Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. And I do,” Moore said in his speech. “And that’s the most unfair thing I think I’ve ever heard.”
If some of you may remember, we had an amazing Tell Them staff member who battled with depression, whom we ultimately lost. This happened at a very stressful time in my life where I, too, began to get lost in the midst of depression. After learning about the death of my council manager, I saw how suicide effects more than just the person it happens to. I shook me, and it shook me awake. I saw the pain that other staff members were going through, and even more powerful, I saw how his family mourned his loss.
We all need role models. We all need someone to look up to, someone to help us become the adults that we all are meant to become, but not all of us are lucky enough to realize we have those role models in our lives.
As Moore said,"when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along," and remember that you could be a person that inadvertently saves someone's life. No matter your creed, no matter your race, no matter your sex and no matter your sexual orientation, you do matter and there is a spot for you in this world.
"It was my 45 seconds in my life to get on television. I felt like I might as well use it to say something meaningful.”
I applaud you, Moore, and I hope that your bravery makes an impact on others who may be suffering as much as your bravery made an impact on me.