During winter quarter, the Associated Students Women’s Center put on The Vagina Memoirs, a showcase for students to tell their truths and experiences in relation to the trials and tribulations associated with their identity.
For spring quarter, the AS Queer Resource Center is putting on a similar show. The Queer Experience is an opportunity for Western students who identify with the queer community to speak about their experiences by telling a personal memoir.
The auditions for the third annual Queer Experience will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 in Viking Union 714.
Those interested in auditioning for the show only need to bring themselves and a pen, said Briana Fitzpatrick, AS QRC assistant coordinator.
Elle Peters and Josh Foley, former AS QRC employees, created the Queer Experience, Fitzpatrick said.
“It was started to provide a space for queer peoples’ voices to be heard, and to shed light on the issues we face being queer identified,” Fitzpatrick said.
The tryout process for The Queer Experience is simple, Fitzpatrick said. There is no need to sign up beforehand. At the tryouts, there will be a check-in where those auditioning will fill out their name, as well as preferred pronouns, among other questions.
Following that will be a series of group interactions, and then a free write on various topics.
The Queer Experience is open to students who identify as queer, as well as queer allies, Fitzpatrick said. With that said, the Queer Experience stands as a place for queer people’s voices to be heard.
Allies are encouraged to audition, but queer-identified individuals are major components of the cast.
“All identities and all experiences are welcome,” Fitzpatrick said.
“There are no qualifications that one needs to have, so we encourage everyone to try out,” Fitzpatrick said.
Once the cast is formed, the five-week preparation process will begin. Throughout spring quarter, the cast will meet once a week to get to know each other and bond, Fitzpatrick said. The cast will write letters to themselves and other people to develop ideas as the process goes on, Fitzpatrick said. The last step is actually writing the memoir.
The Queer Experience performance is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 11 in the VU Multipurpose Room.
Ling Schulman, a cast member from the 2011 Queer Experience, saw the performance as a way to speak about the intersections of her identity as she dealt with an eating disorder diagnosis and identifying as a queer person of color.
“I participated in The Queer Experience because I feel as though the narratives for queer people of color specifically are often left out of the queer experience,” said Schulman.
“Nationally, I feel like QPOCs [queer people of color] don’t tend to have a very loud voice.”
She said the show allows individuals to express truths that are often marginalized.
“A lot of the time, people’s narrative – whatever people are carrying, whatever baggage or struggles they might be carrying on their shoulders – are often left ignored or made invisible,” Schulman said.
“A performance platform like The Queer Experience is really valuable for other people on campus to hear [queer]stories and hear [queer] truths. [It’s] not often an opportunity afforded to queer people.”