By Katie O’Dell
It was a night of confessions, pride and courage as students flocked to the Library Auditorium for PRISM’s annual “Coming Out Monologues” at 8 p.m on Monday, Oct. 3. The event, which took place in recognition of PRISM’s Queer Awareness Month, offered a chance for LGBT students to share their experiences in coming out to family, friends and peers.
“Tonight is about being true to yourself and allowing that truth to shine,” junior English secondary education major and PRISM president Michael Dalpe told the assembled students, whom he charged to “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”
“At this point in our society, we (the LGBT community) still have to justify that we’re normal people,” junior sociology major Kyle Tomalin said. His sentiment became a refrain as students took to the stage with tales of rejection, heartache, humor and acceptance.
“Everyone goes through that point where (coming out is) real. It’s scary, and it’s real,” junior philosophy major Taylor Enoch explained before bringing his mother onstage to help him tell his story.
In a piece titled “A Tribute to My Son,” Enoch’s mother choked up as she confessed to reacting with “raw emotion and ignorance” when first confronted with her son’s sexuality.
“My face lights up every time I see you, and you make me so happy,” she told him, noting that she eventually came to accept her son’s identity. The two left the stage holding hands amidst sniffles and tumultuous applause.
“To me, it’s hilarious,” PRISM secretary Melissa Nesi said of her own experience coming out. “If you’re in a position to be laughing about it and taking it lightly, then you’re in a really great place.”
“Growing up, my mom used to joke that I was named after Melissa Etheridge,” the junior women’s and gender studies major quipped. “Joke’s on you, Mom.”
Others discussed their experience dealing with two realms of sexuality.
“I know what it’s like to be straight, I know what it’s like to be gay, and let me tell you, they’re totally different worlds,” junior sociology and women’s and gender studies major Remi Lourenco commented, noting the criticism she received for kissing her girlfriend in a Walmart. “You can’t do that if you’re in a same-sex relationship.” Lourenco is pansexual, a term which, as she was quick to point out, does not indicate an attraction to pots and pans. “I don’t like cookware,” she jested. “I don’t even cook.”
The tone of the evening darkened as students discussed familial rejection and self-harm. A former student of the College related his harrowing experiences growing up transgendered in an abusive family.
“I don’t want to live like this forever,” he said of a life that has included physical and sexual abuse, alcoholism, cutting and bulimia. He told the audience that officials at the College forced him to return to his abusive home after he became suicidal. “I was given no chance to defend myself,” he said.
“Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free,” he added, quoting the movie V for Vendetta. “Being transgendered means you get to find out what that last inch is.”
He concluded with his thoughts on identity.
“In the end you wind up being who you are, not because you are particularly strong, brave or tenacious,” he said, “but because who you are is not a choice.”