08/27/2013 05:31 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2013

Coming Out of the Closet for Happiness

Recently, I watched Gabrielle Union's amazing speech accepting the Essence "Fierce and Fearless" Award, and it kicked my ass a little. One thing Ms. Union said was:

Living your truth takes real courage. [...] Admitting I wasn't happy was the beginning of the journey. Being fearless is simply doing the recognize that you no longer want to function in dysfunction and misery and actually be happy, not just say you're happy.

The message that came through for me was that you can't be successful if you aren't living your truth, and if promoting yourself requires pretending to be something else, then it's not worth it, and you won't succeed anyway.

For the past few months, I have been promoting a book that has a broad audience. Regardless of background, race, income, religion, nationality or sexual orientation, there is something in this book for everyone, so I made a conscious decision that I wouldn't offend or turn off any potential reader. Nobody needs to know my politics and beliefs if that might stop them from buying the book. Hence, I hid all of that, including hiding the one thing I am most proud of -- that I am a straight ally.

I was afraid that fact might cost me book sales. I was afraid that people who cling to the belief that they have the right to define the marriages of total strangers might not buy my little happiness book if they knew where I stood on the issue.

You know what?

Screw that.

Those people need my book as much as anyone else, and if they want to let their prejudices stop them from reading it and becoming happy, it's their loss, not mine.


Beyond believing in it, in the past five years, I have written, produced and directed 44 commercials, videos and public service announcements in support of it. I have raised tens of thousands of dollars, donated hundreds of volunteer hours, flown around the country and sat on panels to talk about it. I can't believe I ever hid this, but I am so grateful to Gabrielle Union for reminding me that it is a huge, undeniable, glorious, flag-waving part of my truth!

The Declaration of Independence, one of the two most important documents in the history of this country, acknowledges that we were granted by our creator the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of HAPPINESS. Denying marriage to consenting adults who love each other takes away two of those rights, and I cannot pretend I don't have a side here, especially not simply to sell a book -- about happiness!

If you're curious, you can see my work by searching YouTube for "The Wedding Matters," or watch "Your Gay Neighbors" on FunnyorDie, and below is the spot I wrote, produced and directed that is closest to my heart. I hope you enjoy it.

And if watching it makes you not want to buy my book, well... I am happy to live with that.


To read more, you can visit Valerie Alexander's website, Speak Happiness, and follow Speak Happiness on Facebook and Twitter. For more detailed instruction in achieving lasting, permanent happiness, you can get "Happiness as a Second Language" on Amazon, and for added amusement, please check out the Happiest Book Trailer Ever.


For more by Valerie Alexander, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.