By the time I arrived the lights were low and the event was about to begin, so I didn’t have time to sample the refreshments artfully arranged at the back of the beautiful Pendleton room in the Student Union. My friend and I took our seats, pocketing the stickers we had gotten outside when signing in and prepared for a night of moving stories and personal accounts from members of the LGBTQ community here on campus.
The event had been arranged and sponsored through a collaboration between the student org LGBT Michigan and the university’s spectrum center kicking off Umich’s events for national coming out week. By the time the first speaker came up to give their monologue, the room was completely packed. Scanning the rows of crowded chairs it became a difficult game to try to pick out any empty seats as latecomers trickled in and slowly filled the room to capacity. To maintain the privacy of the community members and students who so bravely chose to share their individual stories, I don’t want to recount the specific of any one story, but I appreciated the diversity and range of individuals represented in the monologues. While it seems obvious that no two individuals would have similar experiences, I still found myself amazed at the amount of diversity of individuals and monologues that we heard packed into one night. The crowd was delightfully receptive, laughing at the right moments, staying quiet when the mood was somber, and offering a perfectly respectful environment that everyone could feel safe in, both for the speakers and the other audience members.
I appreciated greatly that there was also time reserved at the end of the event for open mic time, inviting audience members with their own story to share to come up to the front and have a turn on the mic. I was surprised at how well spoken everyone was, reading everything from a personal poem relating to the topic to a moving life story. It was the perfect way to round out the night, and even the open mic speakers all delivered their monologues with a level of polish that was not expected or needed, but highly appreciated. I think this event was the perfect place for those who might feel isolated or alone on campus to hear the stories of others that they might resonate with, or bring communities closer together. I hope that this event becomes a yearly series and sincerely thank those organizing it for their dedication and effort.