The South Korean group’s impassioned UN speech ignites fans to share their personal stories and celebrate their identities through the powerful #SpeakYourself hashtag.
On September 24, BTS made a historic address as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, calling youth to find and to speak their truths at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and in turn, their fans have answered.
BTS’ leader, RM, presented a moving six-minute speech on the group’s behalf, speaking in front of key delegates and leaders at the launch of the United Nations Children’s Fund’s ‘Generation Unlimited’ initiative. The event marked the group as the first South Korean musical act to speak at the United Nations.
here's a full transcription of namjoon's speech. i encourage everyone to read it however many times it takes to fully process and appreciate the message he and the other members are trying to deliver. pic.twitter.com/tFHA7fhfcP
— 1주후에 (@kuchims) September 24, 2018
RM’s speech drew on this own struggle for self-love as a youth, detailing how the judgement of others could stifle a growing child’s important sense of self. The group’s leader expressed how this pressure to conform had continued, recounting how his decision to pursue his passion for music over more traditional career paths was challenged by others. He also described how such harm had spilled over into his early days as a member of BTS, the group’s core message dismissed without much thought.
Ultimately, RM’s address championed the notion of accepting yourself and poetically highlighted the importance of self-forgiveness.
“These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become.” – Kim Nam-joon
— Zach Sang (@zachsang1) September 25, 2018
RM then concluded his address by advocating for others to rise and do the same once they had found self-acceptance, emphasising the need to resist the other voices that will try to speak for you. Succinctly put, to speak yourself.
Accordingly, the speech generated #SpeakYourself. Within the trending hashtags, ARMYs have gathered to proclaim who they are. If BTS’ speech celebrated diversity and inclusivity with the mention of skin colour and gender identity, the hashtag would follow similarly with a wonderful intersection of race, sexuality, and bodies. Fans have come forward to share their experiences, aspirations, and most importantly, their name.
Kim Namjoon asked youths of the world to #SpeakYourself and if this hashtag isn’t proof that sometimes we as adults are out of touch with what young people are dealing with, I don’t know what is. Thank you @BTS_twt and thank you to all bravely sharing your stories.
— Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) September 24, 2018
We hope you are sharing your story too.@BTS_twt has spoken and it's time to hold our hands tighter for this.
— ARMY Protection Squad (@ProtectionArmy) September 24, 2018
Ok, now I’m crying again because of the #SPEAKYOURSELF hashtag.😭 This is why I’m proud to be a part of this family. This is why I support my kids love to @BTS_twt and encourage them not to be afraid to show their passion. Because @BTS_twt spread a very important message out here
— Tatiana (@mommy_tanya) September 24, 2018
Rather than single out a few posts by individuals, its powerful effect can truly be felt when reading the overwhelming proclamations and testimonies when exploring the hashtag. Encouraged and empowered, ARMYs have revealed intimate details and accounts that they have felt comfortable enough to tell. Words of support have been exchanged and affirm those willing to share.
In essence, these truths that fans speak are not unfamiliar with BTS. As a musical act, the group has always embedded important messages and values into their music with the group’s most recent ‘LOVE YOURSELF’ trilogy as a prime example. Though, what’s important to note is that the members aren’t to shy away from expressing their own struggles as ordinary people. BTS has never presented a pretence that these issues don’t exist or are not worth addressing. The group’s songs critiquing the education system, touching upon mental illness and loneliness, and lamenting youth wasted are universal; and it shows in the hashtag.
At heart, there’s something spectacular to a globally popular group using their platform and influence to challenge people to a movement. Though, also are the individuals who have taken it upon themselves to have answered that call. Be it through posts on the social media platform or silently taking away something profound from BTS’ UN address. In the end, working towards self-love is done at a person’s own pace and comfort.
Thoughts? Have you been encouraged to speak yourself? Did RM’s speech comfort you? What are your stories? We’re @ForeverBTScom.