By Jess Ganga
Social Media Editor
It was a night filled with funny stories, emotional moments and dramatic microphone dropping during PRISM’s annual Coming Out Monologues. Students and peers filled the Library Auditorium to hear some of the club’s members and others share their own coming-out stories on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and Thursday, Oct. 9.
“(I have an) immense sense of pride for TCNJ students,” said Megan Osika, senior English, secondary education and women’s and gender studies triple major and president of PRISM, about seeing her fellow members on stage.
Watching from the audience, everyone felt that same sense of pride, witnessing poignant and powerful moments of fellow students opening up about difficult times in their lives.
A junior Spanish and secondary education double major, spoke about the difficulties of coming out to both his parents. In the end, however, the junior knew his parents, especially his father, would “love him no matter what.” He considers his parents to be his best friends.
Many of the monologues centered on family and the emotions that came with coming-out to their parents and siblings. Verbal abuse and sexual abuse were also focal points across several stories, silencing an audience rapt in empathy.
In a monologue by junior sociology and women’s and gender studies double major Tommi-Estefan Granados, he initially began with laughter, telling the audience the things everyone needed to know about him.
“I’m such a macho man,” Granados said to a charmed audience. But soon after, his monologue became emotional, delving into his experiences this past summer when confrontation erupted between him and his family at his brother’s wedding.
The auditorium was silent as he spoke about how he no longer lives with his family and the difficulties of leaving home, even though it was the right thing for him to do. But even with so much hardship, Granados was able to proudly say, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Many of the monologues, moreover, were linked by their appreciation for the home the College has provided.
Jordan Stefanski, a junior nursing major, said he knew the College was where he should attend school after visiting and seeing the giant Queer Awareness Month banner in the Student Center. He took a picture of it, then posted it to Facebook with the triumphant caption: “I’m home.”
Although emotional at times, the night was still full of good spirit and humor.
“I’m a large teddy bear of a homosexual,” Stefanski said of himself at the beginning of his monologue. He explained how in high school, he started his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance to give people a place to go.
“I was like the FDR of the gays,” he said.
The junior Spanish and secondary education double major had many laughs throughout, as well. He adores his family, emphasizing how his little sister, his “little angel,” is someone with whom he can look at couture wedding gowns.
Ryan Eldridge, the event coordinator and sophomore political science and women’s and gender studies double major, closed out the night with his own coming-out monologue.
Eldridge’s story, as he described, was not an emotional one, but one that still affected him deeply. He said that being a part of PRISM has helped him the most.
“(It’s) absolutely indescribable to be able to facilitate an advocacy event, which helped me so much when I was a freshman just last year,” Eldridge said, proud to have helped put together the event and watch his friends and fellow PRISM members speak in front of so many people.
The floor was then opened up for audience members who wanted to share their own stories, inspired by those who spoke before them. And, in response, some viewers bravely stepped up to share what they have gone through in their lives.
The monologues were mutually inspiring to those who are a part of the LGBTQ community and to those who aren’t, creating a community that supports one another and allows its members to personally grow.
“Growth is a fantastic thing,” Stefanski said, walking to the front of the stage in a pair of black pumps. “And as long as I can do it in my four inch 17W heels, I’m going to look damn good while doing it.”