The performers, dressed in all black, preached about self-love and self-expression through personal monologues from their queer and trans experiences. Queer Monologues, hosted by Emerson Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone, or EAGLE, provided a platform for LGBTQ students to celebrate their individual narratives with a crowd of over 60 in the Cabaret last Friday.
The show consisted of 14 performances of written works submitted by students, some anonymously. All donations from the event went toward financing Second Chance Prom, another EAGLE-sponsored event.
Nathan Coffing, a senior visual and media arts major and EAGLE vice president, pitched the idea for the performance. Coffing, who also directed the Queer Monologues, said they borrowed the idea from a similar show they saw when they attended the University of Missouri during their freshman and sophomore years.
“I think it’s important for people to tell their own stories,” Coffing said. “The other thing that really touches me about the monologues is knowing that this idea will continue on, even after I graduate.”
Dominique Carrieri, EAGLE co-president and junior performing arts major, said that this showcase allows students to share their journeys as queer individuals.
“The reason why it is important in the queer context is because our stories are often erased in history,” Carrieri said. “When the queer person is able to achieve ultimate success, whether professionally or confidently, no one really hears about the journey and how they got there.”
According to Casey MacPhail, EAGLE co-president and junior visual and media arts major, all the performers had the opportunity to read the pieces and decide which they identified with the most.
“Everyone brought a different understanding of what that piece meant to them to the performance,” MacPhail said. “I think the reason why it translated so well is because everyone identified individually with their performances.”
The show opened with a piece written by Coffing, titled “What is Queer.” The poem set out to define the word itself. The act featured all 20 performers, who stood together and chanted, “The word is mine, mine, and mine” in unity. Coffing said they hope their writing resonates with the audience’s own experiences.
“I often imagine what I needed when I was five years younger,” Coffing said. “For those who are in their freshman year of college, maybe it will do something for them and they find themselves in my writing.”
When asked to define the word “queer,” Carrieri said it holds everything that she is able to be the most expressive about.
“Being queer means being my best self,” Carrieri said. “My queerness does not define me, but I define my queerness. It is not easy and it has never been, but it is worth it.”
Coffing put out a sexual assault trigger warning before they dove into complex topics like sex and abusive relationships. Sophomore communication sciences and disorders major Ashley Dunn, who attended the event, said opportunities like this allow students to embody queerness and become more comfortable with the idea of it.
“This is the kind of thing that opens up conversations about queerness and what it means to be queer,” Dunn said. “Everyone will be able to understand that they are not the only one questioning their sexuality and gender identity.”
Coffing also read “Dignified,” a personal piece about their experience as a trans person. They said it was powerful having three other trans people up on stage who understood what they are going through and why they wanted to share it.
“I was really glad that I had people up there with me because I have trouble speaking about it on my own,” Coffing said. “This really brings a community together.”
Sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major Danika Frank said she was emotionally moved by the powerful deliveries.
“I think [the performances] were really tranquil and impactful at the same time,” Frank said. “They were informative too, especially about experiences that I did not know about personally.”
The event concluded with the entire cast coming together to perform a piece titled, “Hi Little Girl.” The written work set out to advise a child to love herself, to surround herself with people who care about her as much as they care about themselves, and to acknowledge her self-worth.
“It just goes to show that we are a group of people and we stand together,” MacPhail said. “There was solidarity at the beginning and solidarity at the end.”
Coffing said they hoped the audience walks away feeling celebrated and supported. They said it’s important to share and celebrate one’s identity.
“Emerson may be progressive, but it is still an act of radical existence to step up on stage and say that this is my story as a queer or trans person,” Coffing said. “It is necessary to have art that shows that we are still alive, that we still have stories, and that we are still important.”
Nathan Coffing uses they/them pronouns.