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The Coming Out Monologues embrace Calgary’s gender and sexual diversity

By Jason Herring, March 8 2016 —

For many members of the LGBTQ community, coming out is a formative experience. The Coming Out Monologues, a three-night event taking place at the John Dutton Theatre from March 16–18, celebrates coming out narratives by offering Calgarians a stage to tell their own stories.

Outreach coordinator Alex Naylor says one of the event’s main goals is strengthening Calgary’s LGBTQ community.

“The philosophy of our organization is to be a resilience-building program for the queer community of Calgary. We want to give people a chance to share their stories,” Naylor says. “We work with them for a couple months beforehand working on the stories, so it’s a self-discovery process as well.”

The event, inspired by a similar one at the University of California, Riverside, started seven years ago as a University of Calgary club. The Coming Out Monologues soon outgrew its space and moved off-campus in 2013.

Dr. William Bridel is an assistant professor in the U of C’s faculty of kinesiology, studying the socio-cultural aspects of sports. He is performing at The Coming Out Monologues on March 17 after attending the last year’s event.

“I wasn’t able to participate last year. It was my first year here at the U of C, so my workload was quite full,” Bridel says. “But this year I decided I had the time and wanted to make a commitment to be part of the production. Watching it last year was incredibly moving, inspiring and hilarious. It was something I definitely wanted to be a part of.”

Bridel thinks the event is important because it helps combat discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

“We still live in a heteronormative culture and LGBTQI persons have to come out. It’s not always easy, to say the least. We need to continue getting stories out, we need to continue giving people the opportunity to offer their stories to learn and grow as a community,” he says. “I think these stories provide an opportunity for people to understand a little bit more what it is that LGBTQI persons go though in the heteronormative world we live in.”

In addition to three nights of spoken-word performances, The Coming Out Monologues will feature live music and guest emcees every night. Feminist ukulele band The Wrong Kind of Girls will perform each evening after a sold-out solo concert during Pride Week. And local poet Sheri-D Wilson, U of C senior instructor Dawn Johnston and Global Calgary news anchor Scott Fee will host the three evenings.

Naylor thinks one of the major benefits of the event is giving members of the LGBTQ community a safe space to celebrate each other.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for people to see the diversity of coming out stories,” Naylor says. “People might feel alone in their specific coming out, but at the monologues you may see someone who represents you in some small way and feel encouraged, so that’s also a good reason.”

The Coming Out Monologues run from March 16–18 at the John Dutton Theatre. Tickets are $12 for students and seniors, with pay-what-you-can pricing in place for the March 16 show.

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