Everyone has a secret. Deanna Ogle finds our humanity in how we embrace one another, secrets and all.
In the early 2000s, Frank Warren started a project called PostSecret where he asked people to anonymously mail him their secrets. He started out in his own town talking to people, putting up flyers and spreading out postcards for that people could mail back. At first the postcards only trickled in, but now he has a warehouse where thousands of secrets flood in every week.
When my sister told me that Frank Warren was coming to town to speak, I jumped at the chance to go.
We listened to him talk about how he got started and why he was interested in the concept of secrets. He talked about their power, the value in baring our souls to one another—even anonymously. He said, “There is great healing power in the phrase, ‘I’ve never told that to anyone.’”
The event wasn’t just a lecture, however. About three-quarters of the way into the evening they opened up the floor for people in the room to speak their secrets. I didn’t think anyone would volunteer, but a long line of people formed behind each microphone almost immediately. The courage was breathtaking.
There were a few people who made light of the situation (“I’m pretty much the biggest movie buff I know” and “I picked my nose as a child”), but all the rest of the secrets were powerful confessions of molestation, rape, relationship sabotage, abortions, heartbreak, unrequited love, relief at the termination of a loved one’s suffering, children who were abused by their parents, depression, suicidal thoughts.
It was amazing to see how even the darkest of secrets were happening to people my age all around me. It just goes to show how you truly have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life.
People choked up at the microphone and were comforted by complete strangers behind them in line, and held by the people they sat with. It was one of the most powerful, revealing, and emotional things I have ever witnessed.
But they weren’t all dark secrets. Some were secret crushes. Some were promotions, pregnancies, engagements, emotional hurdles overcome, escapes from harmful relationships, and epiphanies.
I just knew there was going to be one secret that would punch me in the gut and turn on the water works. I kept it together until one girl approached the microphone.
She talked about how she felt alone and confused in life, but then someone came into her life who transformed everything for her. This person made her feel beautiful. She finally felt like someone cared about her, and this person accepted her and loved her for who she was. This person had made her life worth living.
She said, “My secret is a question: Carrie Fisher, will you be my girlfriend?” She said a quick “thank you” into the microphone and headed to her seat.
There was no applause like usual because everyone in the room was holding their breath. Is Carrie here?
As the speaker started back down the long row to her seat, another figure stood up near the middle and waited for her. It was Carrie.
As soon as the girl was within arm’s length, Carrie wrapped her into a huge hug, and pulled her face close and kissed her.
The room exploded. The hundreds of students that were present instantaneously burst into clapping, cheering, and whistling. The two embraced each other and kissed.
The particularly legalistic sect of religion I was brought up in condemned homosexuality. I accepted it, just like other people I know, but what ultimately changed my mind was meeting LGBTQ people. When I looked into their eyes and listened to their stories, they were just as beautiful as the next person and their sexuality was just as important to them as mine is to me.
I was really proud to be a member of the human community that night in that lecture hall. It filled me with overwhelming joy to see other people (a lot of whom were my age) all unified in the celebration of love.
The garden of the world is blooming and we are finally in an age where we are beginning to celebrate it. There is a myriad of letters and phrases describing all sorts of people, orientations, preferences, and identities; with each of them comes a new thread in the great tapestry of humanity.
I will never forget that moment at the PostSecret event because what happened in that hall that night is the future. The future is celebration.
—Photo credit: Foxtongue/Flickr