The Speech That Will Make You Cry | Wentworth Miller
ENGLISH I wasn’t born in this country. ENGLISH I didn’t grow up in any one particular religion. ENGLISH I have a mixed-race background, and I’m gay. Growing up I was a target, speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way.
Every day was a test and there were a thousand ways to fail, a thousand ways to betray yourself. To not live up to someone else’s standard of what was acceptable of what was normal, and when you failed the test, which was guaranteed, there was a price to pay.
Emotional, psychological, physical, and like many of you I paid that price. More than once, in a variety of ways. Like many of you here tonight I grew up in what I would call survival When you’re in survival mode your focus is on getting through the day in one piece And when you’re in that mode at five at ten at 15 There is a lot of space for words like community For words like us and we There’s only space for I and me In fact words like us and we not only sounded foreign to me at 5 and 10 and 15.
They sounded like a lie Because if us and we really existed if there was really someone out there watching and listening and caring Then I would have been rescued by now The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15 I waited until my family went away for the weekend, and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills I Don’t remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning.
I was on the bus back to school Pretending everything was fine And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help I say no Because I told no one You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for And I didn’t I wanted out I wanted gone At 15 I and me can be a lonely place and it will only get you so far That feeling of being singular and different and alone Carried over into my 20s and into my thirties when I was 33.
I started working on a TV show that was successful Not only here in the States but also abroad which meant over the next four years I was traveling to Asia to the Middle East to Europe and everywhere in between and In that time I gave thousands of interviews.
I Had multiple opportunities to speak my truth Which is that I was gay But I chose not to I Was out privately to family and friends to the people. I’d learned to trust over time but professionally Publicly, I was not Asked to choose between being out of integrity and out of the closet.
I chose the former. I Chose to lie, I chose to dissemble Because when I thought about the possibility of coming out about how that might impact Me and the career I’d worked so hard for I was filled with fear Fear and anger and a stubborn resistance that had built up over many years When I thought about that kid somewhere out there who might be inspired were moved by me taking a stand and speaking my truth my mental response was consistently no thing I Thought I’ve spent over a decade building this career alone by myself And from a certain point of view It’s all I have But now I’m supposed to put that at risk To be a role model to someone I’ve never met who I’m not even sure it exists.
I Didn’t make any sense to me That did not resonate at the time By 2011 I’d made the decision to walk away from acting and many of the things I previously believed is so important To me and after I’d given up the scripts and the sets which I dreamed of as a child And the resulting attention and scrutiny, which I had not dreamed of as a child the only thing I was left with was what I had when I started I mean and It was not enough Several weeks ago when I was drafting my letter to the st Petersburg International Film Festival declining their invitation to attend a small nagging voice in my head insisted that no one would notice that No one was watching or listening or caring but this time finally I Knew that voice was wrong I thought if even one person notices this letter in which I speak my truth and integrate my small story into a much larger and more important one is worth sending I Thought let me be to someone else What no one was to me? Let me send a message to that kid maybe in America maybe someplace far overseas Maybe somewhere deep inside a kid who’s being targeted at home or at school or in the streets? That someone is watching and listening and caring That there is an us that there is a we and that kid or teenager or adult Is loved and they are not alone You