I first saw Chris Farias at the original Work of Heart in 2017. He pranced to the stage wearing a unicorn t-shirt that he bought at Winner’s the day before. In his talk, he spoke openly and passionately about his experience with mental health. In my notes from that day I wrote the word “fabulous” next to his name.
There are so many words that describe Chris, and yet none of them truly captures his energy, inspiring, mentoring, challenging, authentic self. He is unapologetically himself, and he understands his power. At one point Chris is answering a question about how to live your best life and he says that it is hard to do that with the challenges that some people face. Things like having access to medication, having the money to afford to live, and that is why he uses his privilege to fight for others.
Chris told the story of being at a dinner event with 12 people around the table. One of the women said hurtful, homophobic things, and Chris didn’t respond at the time. Later he posted that he felt he should have said something. The responses to the post shared that it was up to the other 10 people who didn’t agree with that woman to step forward and address it. Now Chris strives to be the “other person at the table”. “It is not the job of the oppressor to educate the oppressed.”
This story brought tears to my eyes and renewed my desire to also be an “other person”. So many times, it is easier to not speak up or to challenge people’s perceptions or ideas. The effect is that people assume that your silence is acceptance or agreement.
It’s important that we listen and hear where the other person is coming from. That is so much more effective than shouting at each other and calling names.
Thank you, Chris Farias, for being the mystical creature that you are. For sharing your life and learning with us and for leading the Rebellion.