Why SpeakYoTruth matters – Sabene Gomes.

It’s been a year since I launched SpeakYoTruth. At the time I thought the publication would be solely for the purposes of others but what I didn’t realise was that it would teach me many lessons of my own and change the nature of my activism.

In an interview conducted by herinfinite I explained why SpeakYoTruth matters.

What inspired you to start this initiative?

SG: I am an activist at heart and my method of activism has been within my writing and story telling; drawing on the experiences I have had working in the field as a development practitioner. Over the years I’ve noticed the limited amount of space provided to themes and topics which are considered somewhat taboo in our society, namely speaking openly about eating disorders, sexual rights and the unabashed fight for equality. There aren’t enough outlets for conversations on these topics and when they are had they’ve tended to be voiced by people already in positions of elitism and power.

Creating SpeakYoTruth was my way of elevating the voices of women previously on the fringes who have been crowded out of the conversation before; women of colour, those who identify as LGBTQI and women with disabilities. The platform provides a space to speak openly about the issues that affect these women, that are important to them and allows an opportunity to showcase their work as artists, designers, writers and activists.

What was your first step?

SG: The first step was reaching out to intersectional women whose varying identities provided them with a unique perspective on the world. It was explaining to them that the site I had created was for them, was to showcase their artistry and elevate their voices in a safe, communal space.

I made the decision to not edit the pieces they submit so as not to taint their perspectives and to feature them as the unique, talented and fantastic individuals and artists that they are.

What has been your biggest learning?

SG: My biggest learning came in the form of realising my own bias when encouraging a colleague to submit a piece. This person is a disability rights activist and fantastic writer who is also deaf. In asking her to ‘speak’ her truth and identifying how I wanted to elevate her ‘voice’ I began to comprehend the ableist norms which dictate how we envision self expression. 

This entire experience was a tangible lesson in the very reason that intersectionality matters. It highlighted that my fight for equality and justice was based on my experiences, on how I had experienced discrimination as a 1st generation Sri Lankan-Australian and woman of colour. But my verbal activism while unique to me, meant something very different to those who experienced oppression based on their own identities and in this case, impairments.

It’s the reason why SpeakYoTruth has been created the way it has been, to allow women to express themselves in their own way through different mediums.

What will the world look like when you achieve your goal?

SG: I truly hope that by establishing SpeakYoTruth and modelling honesty throughout my own writing and activism that I will inspire others to share their own truths. The platform is designed to create a safe space for women whose voices are usually sidelined to express themselves in an honest and unique way. Hopefully this gives women the confidence to speak up, to express themselves unabashedly and to believe in their uniqueness and offerings to this world.

What is the one thing you’d like readers to take away from this today?

SG: I’d like those who are reading this piece today to challenge themselves to check their own bias. To not pigeon hole women of colous, those who identify as LGQBTI and women with disabilities solely based on one element of their identity.

I’d like people, especially women to be brave. To speak up about the issues that affect them, that are important to them and to not shy away from difficult conversations or subject matter.

All in all, I challenge everyone SpeakYoTruth.

Sabene Gomes – Founder & Editor of SpeakYoTruth.

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*Interview courtesy of herinfinite: https://www.facebook.com/herinfinite/

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