Openly Gay Mississippi Native Wins Award at North America’s Largest Speaking Competition

Award-winning author, Meagan O’Nan, tells her heart-wrenching story about how human connection has the power to hurt and to heal.

STARKVILLE, Miss., April 11, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Meagan O’Nan, award-winning author, keynote speaker, and vulnerable storyteller, placed at Speaker Slam®’s most recent competition on March 26th in Toronto, Canada. The speech already has over 60,000 views across all platforms.

In her speech, Meagan spoke about how she faced harsh rejection from her community and loved ones after being outed as gay in Mississippi. The backlash was intense: friends turned their backs, her spirituality was questioned, and her existence became a battleground for acceptance. Yet, it wasn’t the end.

Fleeing Mississippi, Meagan embarked on a journey of self-discovery. She explored the world, tackled unhealthy relationships, and eventually found her spiritual and emotional sanctuary. Her story took a turn when she met her future wife, leading to a powerful realization: healing comes through vulnerability and connection.

Returning to Mississippi, she faced her past, using her voice to bridge divides and transform pain into progress. Her story is a testament to the healing power of human connection, showing that, even in the face of fear and rejection, embracing our true selves can rebuild the bridges we thought were burned. Don’t let fear dictate who you can become: Connect, share, heal.

“As a speaker, I wanted to challenge myself to not only give a five-minute speech but to give a five-minute speech with an important message about meaningful human connection and how it can hurt us and it can heal us, ” O’Nan continues, “It was imperative to me to be vulnerable on stage and leave every bit of myself in the performance. I feel like I accomplished that. I am proud of this speech, and I am looking forward to possibly competing in the Grand Slam in November.”

For more about Meagan, go to or follow her on Instagram @megonan for more daily inspiration about meaningful human connection and healing.


Meagan O’Nan is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and vulnerable storyteller. She is the author of the award-winning books, “Creating Your Heaven on Earth,” and “Courage: Agreeing to Disagree Is Not Enough.” Her third book, “Held and Free” was released in April 2023 with New Degree Press – it has garnered three prestigious awards in its first year of production. Meagan speaks on topics related to human connection to a variety of audiences. Her most notable audiences have included: Forbes, Toyota, Inspire Brands, and Red Cross National.

Meagan O’Nan
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SOURCE Meagan O’Nan

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