March 3 and 4 will be two of the biggest days of the year for the Queer Resource Center.

On March 3, the first ever Queer Music Showcase will be held at 7 p.m. in the Underground Coffee House, and the very next night, the Queer Experience auditions begin at 6 p.m. in Viking Union 464.
Needless to say, QRC Assistant Coordinator Clinton Kvistad-Renaissance is excited. He was a member of the Queer Experience cast two years ago and created the Queer Music Showcase this year.

“Queer students don’t necessarily have a platform to talk about their marginalization,” Kvistad-Renaissance said. “There’s Vagina Memoirs which talks about gender and The Naked Truth on Stereotypes, which didn’t happen this year, but that talks more about racial stereotyping.”

The Queer Experience was created five years ago to provide that platform.

“It came out of that need to have a space for queer and trans folk to have a community and a platform to speak to students about their life experiences and their reflections on their world,” Kvistad-Renaissance said. “It originally started out just with coming out stories and has evolved into a personal experience memoir.”

Auditions are conducted by the three facilitators, which this year will be Kvistad-Renaissance, QRC Coordinator Derick Reinhardt and a third person, all of whom were on the same Queer Experience cast two years ago. Once they choose their cast, which averages around 15 or 16 people, the group has eight weeks to write and rehearse their own personal experience memoir, which they have the option to perform at the closing performance in mid-May.

Kvistad-Renaissance made it clear that performing was not mandatory, that it is much more about the personal growth achieved during the six to eight week writing and bonding period.

“I learned a lot and grew so much as a person through that and it gave me a whole different kind of passion for injustices that happen to people within my own community,” he said. One night was particularly memorable for Kvistad-Renaissance. 

“It was a heavy night emotionally and we went out into the PAC plaza as the sun was setting and one of the facilitators had us just start screaming,” he said. “There were 15 or 16 of us just screaming in the PAC plaza. People were walking by like, ‘What’s happening?’ That’s a really powerful memory.”

In terms of auditions, Kvistad-Renaissance said that he and the other coordinators are “looking to represent a wide range of experiences and ideas. We want to find people who represent many different points of opinion and experience along the infinite range of this community.”

For the music showcase, performers that want to be featured need to submit their lyrics and poetry to the QRC by Feb. 27.

Both events are “targeted programs,” which per an AS Board of Directors resolution from January 28, which means that auditions for both events are limited to queer, trans-gender and gender non-conforming individuals. This was done “to keep the nature of the event itself, to have an all queer cast speaking about what it means to be queer, gender non-conforming, gender queer or trans,” according to Kvistad-Renaissance.

“We felt that it was really important to uphold because there’s a need for that more private space where you’re with people who are marginalized similarly to you throughout the process because it can be really challenging and emotional, so it’s really important to have that commonality between the cast,” he said. “You can learn a lot about yourself and about other people, and find a tight-knit group. If you feel like you haven’t been able to speak to what you’ve lived, it’s a great place to talk about that.”