By Jess Feldman
Students joined for an evening of poetry, spoken word and essays April 26, to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and LGBTQ+ Pride Month April 26 in Stamp’s Atrium.
Queer and Asian American Monologues, put together by the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA), brought people of all identifications together in a welcoming, comfortable space. The event featured guest performer Kay Ulanday Barrett, known mainly for being a poet, speaker and activist.
Students were encouraged to come up and share self-written poetry or spoken word, reflecting their own personal experiences through raw vulnerability. A range of topics were discussed, such as living as an immigrant, succumbing to stereotypes and coming to terms with identity.
“The students who performing tonight will be focusing on racial vulnerability of strength and of healing, through our motto: ‘Strive, Thrive and Resist,'” AAPI Student Involvement Coordinator Kai Kai Mascareñas said.
According to AAPI Community Education Vice President and event performer Jyoti Kaur, an undecided sophomore who is still undecided, LGBTQ groups and AAPI-inclusive organizations originally planned to host separate monologue nights, but decided that one large event would be more worthwhile.
“The piece I am going to do today is predominantly about AAPI folks existing,” Kaur said before the event. “And how that, in itself, is such a form of resistance.”
In between pieces, the hosts of the event encouraged everyone in the audience to take deep breaths and ‘inhale peace, exhale love.’ As the night continued, more audience members decided to come speak on stage.
The event closed with Kay Ulanday Barrett, who identifies as a “multi-talented brown trans disabled,” gender non-conforming artist, who uses the singular ‘they’ pronoun, according to Barrett’s official website.
Barrett has been featured on colleges and stages globally, and has recently released their book, “When the Chant Comes.”
Barrett performed several poems on stage, alongside an outpouring of chanting, crying and pride from the audience.
“Together we are an anthem, a prayer, a song a hymn,” Barrett read from their first poem. “No matter what.”
Several campus organizations helped fund for the event, including the Asian American Student Union, the Graduate Student Government, the Office of Diversity Inclusion and True Colors of Maryland.