The fifth annual Queer Experience will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9 in the Viking Union Multipurpose room and Saturday, May 10 in Old Main Theater. The truth-telling event, sponsored by the Associated Students Queer Resource Center, features students sharing their experiences as queer and trans* identified individuals in memoir style.

The cast, which consists of about 15 students, has undergone over seven weeks of training to prepare their personal memoirs. Each memoir will feature an individual’s own personal experience of how the queer identity has impacted their life.

Similar to Vagina Memoirs, the Queer Experience offers individuals a safe space and a voice. Queer Resource Center Assistant Coordinator Clinton Kvistad-Renaissance is one of the facilitators of the Queer Experience and understands the significance of this event within the queer community.

“The ability for queer people to share uninterrupted is really important. It’s them saying what their life has been like, or a portion of their life, or how their identities interact and no one else can take that moment from them,” Kvistad-Renaissance said. “I feel like it’s really empowering. You’ve worked so hard on this piece and now is your time to share it. No matter what, people are going to be so blown away and I feel like that’s so important and that’s so affirming.”

Being a part of the show not only allows queer-identified individuals a chance to share their experiences, but the event helps build a stronger queer community.

“It’s tough to maintain a solid queer community on campus because there are so many different groups and different interests, but one of the really good things Queer Experience does is it brings together a really wide range of people and all of us, even the facilitators, become part of the community,” Kvistad-Renaissance said. “It builds up a support network for people, it fosters a lot of friendship and a lot of growth.”

Kvistad-Renaissance was a former cast member and has a firsthand experience of the friendships created by being a part of the Queer Experience. The event is currently in its fifth year and Kvistad-Renaissance hopes to see it continue and expand.

“The performance is a great way for people to be exposed to new ideas,” Kvistad-Renaissance said. “It offers a space for people to realize like, ‘I’m not the only one who had this experience, someone else had this too.’ That’s really important because it helps take away that feeling of isolation.” 

Editor's note: Trans* is an all-encompasing term to describe those who identify with a gender or sex they may have not been assigned at birth.