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S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. Hosts "Expression" Music Fundraiser

S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. Music Event Raises Funds for AFC


 Spectrum1Sexuality, Pride, Education, Community, Truth, Respect, and Unity at Monmouth (S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M.) hosted an artistic event called “Expression” in the Rebecca Stafford Student Center on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

This event raised funds for the Ali Forney Center (AFC) and promoted an inclusive community on campus.

"Expression" was open to the public and accepted donations by ticket sales for the AFC, a non-profit organization based out of New York that exists to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youths.

According to the AFC’s website, the mission of the organization is “to protect LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.”

“I felt it was important to donate funds to the Ali Forney Center because being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, as well as being out at a young age, already puts these kids/teens in jeopardy with families that may not be as accepting,” said Jane Lai, President of S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M.and junior english student.

“According to the Williams Institute [at the] UCLA School of Law, the alarming statistic shows that around 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ+ identifying,” Lai continued. “The Ali Forney Center is the biggest LGBTQ+ nonprofit for homelessness in the community. LGBTQ+ youth are already in a disenfranchised group and to add on that they’re homeless because they’ve been neglected by their parents/guardians because they’ve been neglected by their parents/guardians really puts a burden on them.”

Spectrum2“Expression” was a literary arts and music festival meant to showcase creative ability while “representing a marginalized identity,” according to Lai. The event, which ran at the Rebecca Stafford Student Center from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., featured live acts from bands Teenage Halloween, free cake for every creature, and Adult Mom, along with a live reading by Melissa Febos. Febos, an assistant professor of English, is the author of critically-acclaimed memoir Whipsmart.

“I think that an event like this is extremely important at a place such as Monmouth University because it not only gives students the opportunity to listen to a new band and become familiar with an author’s work, but most importantly, it gives LGBTQ+ individuals the opportunity to share their work with people who may have not been aware of them in the first place,” said Jesse Denniston-Lee, a sophomore social work student and member of S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. “These kinds of creative expression events can help to support positive mental health and inclusion on campus by facilitating a space where students are able to be themselves without the fear of being judged by other people.”

The bands and Febos have all publicly commented on and showed support for the LGBTQ+ community in previous interviews.

Katie Bennett, singer, songwriter, and guitarist for free cake for every creature, said, “I had such a positive experience playing at Monmouth and I’m so grateful for and impressed by the warmth and apparent strength of the S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. community. I’m especially proud to have played knowing that the money made went toward the Ali Forney Center and always will be an advocate for the lives of LGBTQ+ homeless youth.”

Sasha Canan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health and physical education, said, “Being an artistic event is great because it helps to draw more people. This helps because it is a social event and increases the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community on campus. Sometimes we can feel a bit isolated. Having events like this where it increases visibility makes you feel like you are part of the community.”

“I hope students take away that LGBTQ+ culture doesn’t have to be exclusive and you don’t have to identify on the spectrum to be apart of something fun like this this is a concert this is a book reading it brings the community full circle, it doesn’t leave anyone out,” said Lai.

Spectrum3“Having open-access, campus-wide events celebrating student expression is important for building a sense of community and family which can often be lacking for LGBTQ+ youth who are disproportionately likely to experience stigma and rejection, [which can] lead to homelessness and mental health problems,” said Corey Wrenn, Ph.D., Director of the Gender Studies Program and a lecturer of sociology.

Tyler Castro, a S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. executive board member and junior psychology student, said, “The event had a pretty significant impact on me and made me really proud of the work my club did. Seeing so many people come together to support a cause through the mutual love of music and friendship was really heartwarming. I think the event was an overall success and was a nice escape from outside stress we experience every day, and I definitely think that we’ll be having more events like this in the future.”

PHOTOS COURTESY of Michelle Nuch

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu