Sexuality, Pride, Education, Community, Truth, Respect and Unity at Monmouth (S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M.) hosted its second annual Diversity Open Mic Night on Tuesday, April 10 in Magill Commons.
The event featured spoken word poetry, acoustic numbers, and riveting storytelling which caressed the theme of embracing differences within the vein of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+ (LGBTQ+) community as well as in other facets of disenfranchisement.
Some themes that shook the audience in thought and wonder included redefining femininity, the heartbreak of a lover, and coming out anecdotes which all seemed to teach the audience about diversity and empathy through the medium of artistic expression.
When S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. first initiated the event in 2017, it was held in Anacon Hall. While the tables were filled to their capacity, the room was still too huge to achieve that transaction of intimacy between the audience and the performer.
This year, S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. hosted the event in a much smaller room, fixed with details of candles, string lights, and a dimly lit aurora which harmonized with a table of coffeehouse desserts. The room seemed to compliment the sui generis atmosphere that S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. maintained throughout the year as purveyors of intimacy.
“The atmosphere was very intimate, almost romantic, and a great place to bring a date or make friends. The dull candle lights mixed with the ones wrapped around the stage and microphone had a great effect,” said Danielle Gonzalez, a sophomore English student.
Thanks to the S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. executive board members, Chris Rapaglia a sophomore social work student, Tyler Castro, a junior psychology student, and Roxy Nicoletti, a sophomore chemistry student, their creative ways enabled them to decorate and re-arrange the plain room into a space but which not only provided safety, was also comfortable, engaging, and amusing to enjoy.
Beside the event being a wonderful and casual rendezvous for students and faculty alike, there was a bigger goal that S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. aimed for within its event arsenal. While these events are fun and garner a good amount of the LGBTQ+ community to come together to celebrate their identities, there is plenty of room for people of different identities to soak up the environment as well.
For an LGBTQ+ community to flourish, others who may not be identifying on the spectrum must be allowed in and embraced for their veins of oppression in an enduringly systematic society which continues to benefit such a small spoonful of identities.
“I think events that encompass as much diversity as possible are vital in every aspect,” Gonzalez said. “Beyond the LGBTQ+ community, intersectionality is an important component in peoples’ lives that needs to be talked about. Sexuality, along with race, religion, beliefs and more help shape everyone’s unique lives and should be accounted for.”
This is true—there’s no way such a small community can grow themselves to their best ability without inviting others in. S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. has perpetuated this growth throughout the year, teaming up with ally clubs such as Gender Studies, Sociology, Youth Activists, Students Advocating for Girls’ Education (SAGE), and Professors United for a Safe Haven (PUSH) to tap into an assortment of ostracized groups in order to educate themselves through the voices of others living through those experiences.
“It is because sexual orientation and gender identity are not the only important things about LGBTQ+ folks identities and lives. We are also our race, our socioeconomic status, our education level, our family status, our (dis)ability status, etc,” said Sasha Canan, Ph.D., advisor for S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. and assistant professor of health studies.
“To care about LGBTQ+ experiences is to also care about other experiences. We are whole people, not just an ‘L,’ or a ‘B,’ or a ‘T,’” Canan continued.
College is the environment to expand the scope and take these opportunities created as conduits to see the world from another perspective. Today, and every day, and hopefully even after students graduate, S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. challenges them to look at things from someone else’s perspective.
It is always important to constantly be challenging individual privileges in order to realize how each person fits into such a diverse, yet quite beautiful, world full with unabridged differences.
PHOTOS TAKEN by Alexandria Afanador and Jane Lai