Students share emotional experiences at annual Coming Out Monologues

Held in the Gold Rooms of the Oakland Center, students performed a variety of styles of monologues: comical, insightful, somber or somewhere in between. 

By Kevin Teller

Souls were bared and stories shared when the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) hosted OU’s annual Coming Out Monologues on Thursday, Oct. 9.

“We want all students of all cultures to get a glimpse of what it is like for an LGBTIQA+ person to be struggling with the coming out process in hopes that it strenghtens our bonds as human beings,” said GSA President Becca Reichenbach.

Held in the Gold Rooms of the Oakland Center, students performed a variety of styles of monologues: comical, insightful, somber or somewhere in between. Students had the option to perform a previously written monologue that they obtained with permission to perform or they could write their own.

“I would definitely say we have a strong LGBTQIA community here at OU,” student Bri Lee said. “We’re always looking for more people to join.”

Lee was one of the performers at the event, making it her third time taking to the stage for the Coming Out Monologues. Lee is also an active supporter of the things that GSA and GSC have to offer on campus, such as Friday night’s bonfire event and the annual drag show.

The event was created in honor of National Coming Out Week, which took place from Oct 5 thru Oct. 11. The last day of that week is the official National Coming Out Day and holds a lot of significance to those in the LGBTQIA community.

“We are here so that people can talk about their coming out stories and other stories as well,” said second-year performer and GSA Secretary Ashleigh Shoemaker. “What their sexuality means to them, how it affected them, their life, stuff like that.”

Many of the monologues given by students were personal and delved into each performer’s past experiences and the times when each of them came out publicly. 

Students gave performances in which they addressed many tough issues: family, sexuality and a sense of self-worth and self-belonging were some of the topics covered.

“Love your body they way your mother loved your baby feet,” said one monologue speaker who focused on self-harm and self-deprecation as a means of release. “And remember, this is important, you are worth more than who you attract.”

The subjects for the monologues ranged from light-hearted to strongly evocative and emotional. In any case, the importance of self-expression was a key part of each monologue.

“Every story has its complexities,” Shoemaker said in her own performance. “Today I want to talk about something that is maybe not so happy. I want to talk a little about sexuality, about how it can be fluid. How over time, you may come to realize things about yourself that you might not have been prepared for. Things that make you uncomfortable, or even ashamed.”

Several students brought up tales from their own past in original performances. They told of their own internal and external struggles that they have gone through, tales of acceptance and denial. Tales of experiences that tested the human spirit.

As well as being emotionally based, these monologues were meant to be informative. Students raised awareness of trials that face many students within the LGBTQIA community each day.

“Have you ever thought about what it’s like to have a wall separating you from the outside world?” said speaker Cheyanne Kramer. “I don’t think I can say what makes me so strange. Because I’m scared. Because even though I’m strong, I just can’t bring myself to tear down these walls yet.”

While some topics discussed may have had a darker tone to them, the night was not without rays of hope. 

 “I think it is rewarding for the person giving the monologue to feel like they finally have a voice, and really, to help raise the voices of those who are too scared or hesitant to be themselves,” Reichenbach said.

Through these performances, students have the power to take hateful ideas that are thrown at them on a daily basis and transform them into inspirational examples of the will of the human spirit.

There was love in the room that night, as shown by everyone’s continual support. Those in attendance included people on all levels of involvement with GSA, GSC and OU.

“It’s really nice to have somewhere that’s welcoming, and the people who are there are obviously people in your same community who understand you,” Shoemaker said of the GSA. “It’s just really nice to have that support system in place.”

For more information on other upcoming events, email Becca Reichenbach at [email protected] or the GSC at [email protected]