Since 2015, the Coming out Monologues have been a Portland event that allows LGBTQ members to share their stories. Now, the community storytelling project is coming to Eugene for the first time.
Producer of the Coming out Monologues CM Hall, said all shows are ASL interpreted, with eight storytellers performing in Eugene.
“A lot of us have a lot of hurt from coming out to people who didn't take it well,” said Hall. “From people who rejected us, from people who made us feel more isolated and alone. And to know that there are other people who come out of similar, hurtful situations, and triumphed—that element of authentic connection and ways that you identify with peoples stories that you didn’t expect you would, is just something really special that I think we are able to bring with this event.”
Originally fashioned after the idea of the vagina monologues, the Coming out Monologues allows Oregonians to tell their own coming out.
But when they previously pitched the show to an outlet in Portland, they received pushback.
“They thought, ‘Oh, we don't need to hear these stories anymore,’ said Hall. “And I would say actually, we do need to hear these stories because while we have LGBTQ equity in Oregon, it's still legal to be fired based on your sexual orientation or gender identity in 30 States. And…the needle is moving backwards a little bit in terms of cultural acceptance of LGBTQ folks.”
Because of the inequality and discrimination LGBTQ members face, she encourages allies to attend.
“Allies have so much power,” said Hall. “They have no idea how much power they have. You know, it's, it's the rarity that it's LGBTQ folks in power making and passing laws that [are] inclusive and equitable. It's largely cis-gender straight folks who are passing these laws.”
Hall said people who have performed during previous monologues will also be on the stage. She referenced someone who identifies as a Latino gay male, who talks about coming out to his family.
“Everyone in the audience tears up at his story, laughs at his story—and by the end of it—is standing with applause at his story with how he has this beautiful paradigm shift of understanding his connection with his family and what his identity means to him,” said Hall. “And it is the most like vulnerable story that we hear.”
She also referred to a story of a man from Toledo who was involved with professional baseball, who married a woman because he thought was expected of him. All the while, he is fighting feelings for other men, while also trying to maintain his life with his family.
“And so, he comes out while [his wife is] pregnant with [their] second kid, and they actually lose their second kid,” said Hall. “And I guess the upside is that today he has a really strong relationship with his ex-wife, they co-parent beautifully. He's out, he's happy, he's proud, and he's got a firm sense of his identity that he had to kind of come to terms with.”
In the words of Hall, “it’s hard to hate up-close.” As the event works to combat homophobia and transphobia, Hall said these are stories audiences will always remember.
“It's one of those beautiful ways that's connecting us,” said Hall. “With so much screen time in our lives nowadays—to have an opportunity to sit and listen to each other and sit and hear these really raw and personal moments about people's lives and their journey to understand themselves—it's a really rare moment.”
The Coming out Monologues are hosted by Basic Rights Oregon, and will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene from 7:30PM to 10:30PM.