On Monday, April 29, I invite and encourage you to attend The Coming Out Monologues, a collection of coming out stories authored and performed by Western Oregon University students, alumni, faculty, and staff. These stories are funny, poignant, serious, heartbreaking, embarrassing, creative, painful, and hopeful—in other words, they are a representation of the diverse and unique experiences of people who identify within the LGBTQ+ community and/or as straight allies.
This year’s monologues carry extra significance to me and to this community, in part because they come on the heels of an example of bigoted vandalism to a class project my students are doing to raise awareness of gender and sexuality studies on campus. For those of you who do not know, someone posted a swastika to my students’ gender studies bulletin board project last week, in what we can only assume is an attempt to silence my students. Though this certainly impacted the sense of a safe learning environment in the classroom, it has not deterred these students at all. They are disappointed and mad, but they are also motivated and empowered to continue this work and to do so in ways that are louder and fiercer.
This experience has also highlighted for me and for my students the need for allies within and outside the LGBTQ+ community to continue to show up and to be actively and vocally supportive. Through hard work and years of dedication, WOU continues to strive to be a welcoming and inclusive campus. But this experience from my classroom also shows that WOU exists in the real world, a world in which bigoted folks feel increasingly emboldened to engage in hateful speech. If we want to continue to move in the direct of unconditional affirmation and love, we have to continue to do the work of showing up, offering support, and creating spaces where people feel comfortable to express the truth of their lives. The Coming Out Monologues is a great example of what that space can be: open, affirming, loving, funny, painful, creative, and so incredibly beautiful.
I encourage you to show up and help us create and recreate safe spaces for our LGBTQ+ community. The information for the Coming Out Monologues event and for a pre-event reception sponsored by LGBTQ+ alumni is included below. You are invited to both and encouraged to bring friends!
FIRST EVENT: LGBTQ+ AND ALLIES ALUMNI RECEPTION
ALL ARE WELCOME. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN ALUM TO ATTEND.
Willamette Room of the Werner University Center (WUC)
COST: $15 (includes cocktails, refreshments, bonus monologues, and reserved VIP seating at the Monologues)
Alumni Event link
The more folks who support this event, the more we show Western's Alumni Office that folks care about LGBTQ Alum and their allies.
Here's how to register for the event. It’s a **2-step** process to pay for the LGBTQ Reception:
1. Register for the reception here. If you cannot attend, please write in the notes field: Sponsor an attendee. http://calendar.wou.edu/alumni/#event_id/4289/view/event
*2. Pay here ($15, but feel free to donate as much as you can) https://www.wou.edu/foundation/give-to-wou/
Use the “Other” field under Gift Designation and type the code *LGBTQ Alumni*
SECOND EVENT: THE COMING OUT MONOLOGUES
Doors open at 7pm. Show at 7:30pm in the Pacific Room. No advance tickets needed.
$2 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds. Proceeds benefit the WOU SafeZone.
Produced by CM Hall. Directed by Ted deChatelet.
Coming Out Monologues Event link
These are the storytellers we are featuring (and some of the lines from them):
Aeron Esch, “I went from identifying as a lesbian to identifying as bisexual, back to lesbian, to panromantic demisexual, and, finally, to pansexual panromantic.”
Hannah Bachelor, “At sixteen years old, I was dragged out of the closet.”
Hannah Hardcastle, “For a long time, I’ve identified as “game,” as in: “I’m game,”
Maria Becerra, “I remember being in fourth grade, 9 years old, a tomboy, … and telling my mom innocently one day after school, “Ama, pienso que Adriana es muy hermosa, me encantan sus ojos. Tal vez algun dia me case con ella.” (Ma, I think Adriana is so pretty, I really like her eyes, maybe one day I’ll marry her.)
Max Groshong, “I was forced to face my own mortality. This, above all, is what pushed me to truly start living every day as if it could be my last and I had to start by being honest with myself and my family.”
Tyler Martin, “My grandpa said that I was never meant to be a boy and that any doctor who would prescribe me testosterone was practicing child abuse.”
Annika Joy Barnett, “Being queer, femme and married to a cishet man...is going to queer spaces and getting stares, it’s pulling back my hair to show my undercut, in hopes that it clues people in.”
Chad A. Ludwig, “I came out to my mom over the phone. I typed a message by saying, “Mom – I am gay.”
Chrys Burcham, “My Dad, a military vet who continues to carry himself with a marine’s posture and whose voice barks like a drill sergeant, looked me straight in the eye and pointedly asked, “Do you like womyn?”
Rebecca Chiles, “Kelli said, “You are sweet on her, aren’t you Queer?” This absolutely filled me with terror. No one had ever called me out before.”