• Cara Cilento

The Fear of Being Heard And LGBTQ

Updated: May 26, 2021

Standing up for yourself, or what you feel is right is a scary thing. It makes you vulnerable and makes your opinions and actions very real. Hell, I can think of instances when the fear of being heard was so immense that kept me up at night. I kept thinking about the intended and unintended consequences of speaking out. Would I lose my job? Would I lose friends and family? What would my kids say? What would strangers who know me say to my kids? It was all on the table but was it enough to silence me? Or did knowing there was opposition silence my fear of being heard? Well, me being the person that I am, I conquered my fear of being heard and took whatever came my way.

Who Else Has A Fear of Being Heard?

When I sat down to write this piece, I decided to do some research (I always do. It’s a quirk.). I found a lot about ethical loneliness, when a person feels abandoned by those in power and humanity and left to suffer at the hands of others. But that isn’t what I was looking for. I found a lot of statistics about the consequences of standing up and standing out. But that wasn’t what I was looking for either. No, I wanted to read about the fear of being heard. I wanted to know what happens in that split second when members of the LGBTQ or any marginalized community look before they leap. But do you know what I found? Next to nothing. It was elusive as it was real, at least for me.

Determined to write this piece as so, I decided to put it out there on social media to get some opinions. I posted it to two groups online, one with 367 members and one with and one group with only 20. One was primarily for lesbians while the other was social justice. I figured with close to 400 people I would get at least one nibble. Everything was anonymous. I just wanted to know if people ever had a fear of being heard and what it felt like to live in that space. Guess what happened? Not one person responded. I was shocked! Is this something we collectively don’t speak about? Is acknowledging the fact you have a fear of being heard taboo? Or are only some people afraid?

What I Learned About The Fear of Being Heard

I could understand denying if you fear of speaking up. I don’t think anyone, LGBTQ or otherwise, wants to be seen as weak in their beliefs, however there is a lot at stake. It is human nature to want to talk about the truths we hold rather than hide behind a fake smile. Marginalized groups want to be visible. They need validation, acknowledgment, and support. Marginalized groups hope friends and people in power will come through, listen sympathetically, speak kindly, and hold space for our stories. Otherwise, in its most extreme form, LGBTQ and others would suffer the consequences of ethical loneliness as author Jane Stauffer writes.

So what did I learn? First, I learned that people are uncomfortable at talking about their fear of being heard or they don’t know how to. Second, I learned that space between looking and leaping is a good thing. It is your inner voice telling you that there is personal growth potential ahead, so risk it! Finally, I learned we should condition ourselves to overcome the fear of speaking up because if we don’t, there is always the possibility that no one else will.

Check out my book! It's available here: Say Cheese! The World is Watching

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