Where Are Your Papers?
We’re excited to start offering periodical blog posts from members of the AFT family, sharing thoughts in their own words. Our first post comes from Nikki R. Veit, About Face Youth Ensemble ’14.
We hope you’ll enjoy hearing from us in this new blog series and we welcome your feedback. Let’s keep the conversation going…
Two weeks later and I’m still chewing on the invigorating writing prompt we all received during our weekly Saturday meetings. It was April 5th, 12:30pm and needless to say I was a bit groggy from the night before. After starting us off with some improv games, our fearless leaders (Ali, Shannon, and Kieran) gave us each a sheet of paper and instructed us to endow it with some significant meaning. We were to create a short piece that contained a beginning, a middle, and an end.
After ten minutes of individual experimentation, we came together to reveal our stories to the class. I watched eagerly as my ensemble mates transformed these sheets of paper into tax receipts, divorce papers, money, and eviction notices. One in particular struck my attention as the paper transformed from a credit card to an empty wallet to a college degree. I personally love when props take on several forms before an audiences’ eyes, creating what I like to call “theatre magic.”
My piece felt more like a soapbox rant than it did an active story, but I didn’t allow myself to doubt my work and instead walked up ready and committed to present. I wrote the letters “lGbtq” on my sheet. G capitalized because that is the box I check when inquired about my sexuality. This is a topic that I’ve struggled with since coming out at the age of 15-when I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself a lesbian, and certainly did not feel that bisexuality summed up my innate attraction to women. But just because I’m a biological woman I’m expected to adhere to one label, and the G is only reserved for men who like men.
I find it outrageous that such a welcoming, loving community as the lgbtq one can be so disapproving and judgmental at times. As a collective of people, we strive to not be classified and we refuse to be placed in boxes, but we are so obsessed with attaching labels to those around us. If I date women, I’m a lesbian. If I occasionally enjoy sleeping with guys, I’m bisexual. But if my long, auburn hair cascades over my 3-piece suit, then I’m just not filling out the silhouette in your stereotypes of girls who like girls. And suddenly I’m “hard to read.”
I am gay. That is all. I don’t need to be a biological male to consider myself the G in lgbtq. And I will continue to defend my identity, to anyone who believes they are owed an explanation.
And this activity is one piece to the puzzle that will soon create Checking Boxes. Where an ensemble of story-tellers band together to make the personal, universal. Where we explore what the phrase Checking Boxes means to each of us personally, and collaborate to help each other’s stories come to life.