By Julia Meehan
The Library Auditorium stage served as a platform for students to share their personal stories with both members of the club and the greater campus community when PRISM hosted its annual event, The Coming Out Monologues, on Oct. 10 and 11.
Despite the serious nature of the act of coming out, the atmosphere in the room remained light and upbeat. Although the monologues detailed life-changing events, many also featured jokes and were delivered in a light-hearted manner.
Forum Modi, a freshman computer science major, spoke about his multi-faceted journey to find his true self as a member of the transgender community.
“All my coming out stories are awkward,” Modi said as he described the first time he came out to his high school friends, who were all supportive. “It was pretty nice, casual and wasn’t a big deal.”
Coming out to his family, however, was a different experience. After coming out to his sister as transgender on the phone, he used her support to work up the courage to tell his dad. As the moment crept closer, his courage began to wane.
“I said, ‘I need to tell you something,’ but then I couldn’t talk, so my sister came out for me,” he said.
Although his dad was relatively accepting, he warned Modi against telling his mother, who did not share his father’s views. Modi avoided telling his mother he was transgender until it was unavoidable.
“She wanted to know what was wrong with me and why I was always wearing men’s clothes,” Modi said.
Modi’s monologue included both a Shakespearean-style poem, which was met with snaps from the audience, and a heartful song with ukulele accompaniment. The song’s upbeat melody was juxtaposed with serious and emotional lyrics that asked for acceptance from his mother.
All of the speakers smiled as they recounted their uncomfortable years of confusion about their identity. They had stories about first crushes, miscommunications and awkward situations.
Several speakers addressed the labels that accompany gender and sexuality. They spoke about trying on multiple labels and the process involved in finding the one that fits. Some embraced the idea of labels, while others shrugged them off and doubted their importance.
All of the speakers seemed to agree that coming out was an ongoing process for them. They spoke about coming out to friends, parents, extended family, partners and teachers.
Later in the evening, Giselle David, a senior elementary education and English double major, spoke about how her journey was influenced by Youtuber Ingrid Nilsen.
David watched Nilsen’s coming out video when it was first posted three years ago and thought, “Why am I relating so much to this?”
When David started to have feelings for a girl, she did not know what was happening.
She wondered, “‘Why am I getting so excited when I get a Snapchat? Why am I getting so excited when I get a text?’” until it finally clicked.
David smiled as she described what it was like to come out to her roommate.
“I made it all dramatic. I turned off the lights,” she said.
This story had a happy ending — her roommate was supportive of her sexuality.
She went on to speak about coming out to her mother. David told her mother about her relationship with a girl and was met with tears. Her mom insisted she was gay, while her brother chimed in and suggested that she might be bisexual. However, she was not as quick to define herself and pick a label.
“Friends will be like ‘shes a lesbian’, and I’m like, ‘did I say that?’” she said, casting doubt on the importance of labeling yourself and your sexuality.
Throughout all the monologues, the audience remained captivated. The sound of snaps repeatedly filled the room and there was a sense of camaraderie among the members of the crowd as they related to the stories being told.
David ended her monologue with her reflections on coming out.
“Coming out is never easy,” she said. “This is my first time ever talking about it. Take your time, as long as you need, because there’s no timeline on coming out.”