Queer Monologues: Reflections on Three Years of Community and Growth

I’ve never considered myself a performer. I didn’t do theatre in high school, unlike many Emerson students. I was in chorus for eight years so I knew all the theatre kids, but I never went through the experiences of tech and dress rehearsals like many of my peers.

That’s why I hesitated to join when EAGLE announced the inception of Queer Monologues in 2016. Queer Monologues was started by EAGLE’s Vice President that year as a way to give queer voices a space at our institution. The show is modeled after Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, and every piece in the show is written and performed by queer Emerson students. The show has become a way to give students a channel for their voices that frankly didn’t exist before. Students can choose to write and perform their own work or they can submit something and watch it be performed or can be in the show without writing anything themselves. It’s a way for students who may be hesitant about writing or performing to still get their voices out there.

It’s been a whirlwind three years and as I’ve seen Queer Monologues grow, I’ve seen myself grow with it.

The first year I was a timid sophomore, not entirely convinced I even wanted to be in the show. I had never performed on stage before (except in church Christmas pageants) and the fact that I had recently come out that year added a whole new layer to my anxiety. Speaking about my gender identity on a stage in front of people was terrifying. But I performed a piece about a tie with three other students and it was amazing to hear the words I had written spoken out loud.

The second year I was a bit louder in my identity. I was using they/them pronouns and wrote about a few experiences with gender throughout my life. I was given the title of stage manager and took on even more responsibility with the show.

This past year has been simultaneously the most stressful and rewarding experience of all. I went into it thinking I had everything figured out. I had been involved in Queer Monologues for two years, after all. I went in knowing exactly what needed to be done so that I could ensure the production went as smoothly as possible. But as with all productions, something always comes along to foil that plan. From snow days threatening to cancel rehearsals to Tufte being locked the day of the show for the March for Our Lives to my co-director getting stuck in Texas for a week because of snow, I definitely had my fair share of panic.

At the end of the day though, all of the stress is worth it. Nothing can compare to these experiences. To co-directing a show with one of my best friends, Meghan Corless, to having a lot of friends decide to be in the cast this year and to emerging friendships with those I wasn’t that close with before. There’s so much power in being able to share these stories and it’s a bond that I don’t think can ever be replicated. I know people who have met their roommates through Queer Monologues. I’ve seen couples write love poems for each other. I’ve seen new friendships formed. I’ve been so glad to be a part of it all.

This year I read a poem by myself. I stood on that stage alone and read probably one of my best pieces of work. I pushed myself by trying to perform most of it off book. I can see how much I’ve grown, from a shaking sophomore barely able to talk about their identity to a loud senior with so much love for their community. Queer Monologues has grown so much since the beginning and I’ve grown with it.

At the end of the second show, when we were all crowded onto the stage after our final piece, Meghan leaned into the microphone and said, “Lauren, we’ve been scheming. We had a group chat.” My friend from the audience came onto the stage with gifts for me: a card (it was a retirement card—so funny), flowers, and a big box of crayons. This show left an impression on me that sat with me for days after. Never have I seen a cast so willing to step up for each other and be there for each other even when we were all going through our own hardships. I will cherish these people even after I graduate and I am happy to call them all (and the casts from previous years) my friends. This show is a reminder of how beautiful this community is and how even if the world tries to push us down, we are bright, we are unique, and we will stand tall. We are every shade of the rainbow.


Spectrum

From Queer Monologues 2018

I’m 16 years old and in my friend’s basement and we’re playing pool. He tells me to hit the red ball and sink it into the corner pocket. I hit the red ball and he immediately yells at me and says, “no, the other red one!” I look. “The burgundy ball, you mean.” “It’s red, who cares?”

Can women really seem more colors than me? Is it true that when I look at a shirt and see burgundy, see maroon, see cinnamon or crimson, some boy sees red?

A friend comes to me after being misgendered again. Was called girl, told their name doesn’t fit their body, and I don’t see how anyone can ever look at them and see girl.

My roommate tells me they give their name at a coffee shop and when they go to pay, the barista looks at their credit card, trying to match names to bodies to names as if it’s any of their business.

A friend is excluded from the count in his ASL class because no one knew how to gender him, so the only solution was to act like he didn’t even need to be counted.

My other roommate is the only person at our table called by a gendered term at dinner. Called “sir” when the rest of us got nothing. As if the staff needed to speak it out loud to create some sort of definition for themselves.

I am called M’am at work again and I look in the mirror on my break and wonder if maybe this is what people mean when they say you never truly know what you look like; that my face must be so different if I can look into the mirror and see this mix of boy and other that I don’t have a name for but it’s certainly not girl.

Do trans people see more genders than everyone else? Is this why I can never look at my friends and understand why they’re misgendered? Do trans people see all these shades in the rainbow that no one has the words for? Or that they lump into a larger name because it’s easier?

My gender is a striking cerulean.

My roommate’s a vivid chartreuse.

My friends are crimson and magenta. They’re periwinkle and salmon and fern. Plum and sea green and copper.

And wasn’t it the best feeling ever as a kid, to have the biggest box of crayons? The one with all 64 shades. No one ever told you you had to stick with the 8-pack. They wanted to give you every color imaginable.

So you could create the most vibrant rainbow.

Lauren Lopez