On a Friday evening in the theater of Springfield Technical Community College, sisters Tianna and Tara enter on stage. Electronic beats from the song, Closer by Tegan and Sara fill the room and they begin to lip-sync, “All I want to get is a little bit closer…” while simultaneously moving in a choreographed dance routine. A minute later, more youth leaders of Out Now flood the stage and show off their awesome dance moves: ballroom voguing, twerking, you name it. The audience goes wild and cheers them on.
On October 18th 2013, the youth leaders of Out Now organized the Fourth Annual National Coming Out Day Soiree. From drag queen performances, to spoken word, to singing and dancing, this Soiree encompassed the many talents of the youth at Out Now. Family, friends, and community members came out to support the organization and their loved ones on and behind the stage.
This event was important to have for infinite reasons. The Soiree was in honor of National Coming Out Day and established a safe space for LGBTQIA youth to come out of the closet. (They even had a rainbow painted door on stage so that people could come up and share their coming out stories!) There is no better way to come out of the closet than to come out walking (dancing) into a great support system and onto a stage. Tara, a youth leader at Out Now shared, “It was an amazing time spent with wonderful friends and amazing families.” Her sister Tianna posted a Facebook status after the show expressing pride in her identity.
The Soiree also provided access for youth to experiment with drag in a respectful and encouraging environment, combating what can be sometimes unsafe within the gender non-conforming, trans*, queer, and gay communities.
What was amazing about the event was that it was organized by the youth themselves with facilitation by the staff members.
For months these leaders dedicated every day to throwing this event, from their routines, the Carnival-themed games, promotion, to managing backstage.
R was one of the drag queens that performed in the show. He said,
“I thought the soiree was very extravagant and exciting to see all the performers perform. Especially the planning of the soiree was very fun to do, a lot of people were apart of this and it was awesome to see a lot of youth people involved in this.”
He also shares his thoughts on the importance of having the Soiree:
“It’s important to have a Coming Out Day Soiree because a lot of people would love to see a show and would love to be apart of it and there was so many people involved in this. It was exciting and very awesome.”
The Out Now youth showed not only their creative talents, but also their skills in organizing, managing, directing, and especially, leading. Tianna shared,
“I thought it was beyond amazing! It was important to me because it gave me and the youth a chance to prove something and show how happy we were to be apart of Out Now.”
By the booming cheers from the audience, it was clear that everyone was very impressed with their hard work and collaboration. M, another youth leader in Out Now reflects,
“It was overall amazing to see the performance but what I thought was truly special was the audience. Such a large crowd that hoot and hollered. There was parents and friend of those performing so what I think is important was how it brought everyone of different sexuality, religion, etc. and it was a place to be one as a community.”
The Soiree was a great success and was much more than a talent show; it was a showcase of unconditional support, community building, and strength that exists among LGBTQIA youth at Out Now.