QRC, 5C students celebrate National Coming Out Day with Motley open mic

Students sit in chairs and on couches in a brick-walled room while a student stands on stage reading poetry.
Rose Gelfand SC ’21 reads her poetry during the LGBTQ+ Open Mic Night at The Motley Coffeehouse on Oct. 12 in celebration of National Coming Out Day. (Zoe Cowan • The Student Life)

In honor of National Coming Out Day, the Queer Resource Center hosted an open mic night at the Motley Coffeehouse on Oct. 12. The turnout was heartwarming — the Motley was flooded with chatter and people cheering, snapping and shouting encouragement at performers throughout the night.

The open mic featured a wide array of performances, from an acoustic duet cover of “Corduroy Dreams,” originally by Rex Orange County, to inspiring poems about body image and the LGBTQIA+ experience to stand-up comedy.

Abby McCarthy PZ 21 and Elyse Endlich PZ 22, both event organizers and emcees for the night, caused uproars of laughter in between acts, especially when they half-jokingly announced the event intermission to be a time for the audience to flirt with one another.

This is not the first open mic night for McCarthy, a student associate at the Queer Resource Center. Friday’s event builds off a previous successful open mic that McCarthy wanted to see replicated.

“I hosted an LGBT mic night last semester that was really successful,” she said. “People were able to bring really good poetry and music [to the event], and I wanted to keep that going.”

Endlich said open mics are a unique forum, giving students true freedom to express themselves without stringent guidelines.

“I really love hosting open mics,” she said. “I love giving people the space to share anything they want with the community. Open mics are just a very positive environment.”

In addition to helping to organize the event, Endlich also read original poetry. Performing, Endlich said, is an act greater than just sharing for her.

“I usually try to perform because, yes, I enjoy performing and sharing my stuff, but more than anything I want to encourage people,” she said. “When I go up there and I’m having fun, I think that helps get people going.”

To McCarthy, holding an open mic is crucial to student expression and showing student support.

“When people are able to express [their experiences with] being LGBT with other people in a community, it reminds people that they are not alone and [that] there is a strong LGBT community here,” she said. “It gives [people in the community] a chance to connect with people, to get to know each other and feel welcome.”

The Motley was chosen, McCarthy said, as a venue for students who may not yet feel comfortable going to the QRC. 

“I want people to have a fun space where they can be around other LGBT people, where people can relax and destress after a long week,” she said. “Plus, students who write poetry and all the talented musicians on campus who have been wanting to share will have a space to do that.”

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Endlich also said The Motley was an ideal space for hosting performances that may be nerve-wracking for some. Furthermore, the student-run nature of The Motley contributed to the positive environment.

“It’s a very artistic space, it’s a very non-judgmental and diverse space,” she said.

Nikodem Bisaga PZ ’23 performed two songs by Declan McKenna and played the guitar, despite never having performed at a school open mic before.

“[Singing] is a thing I’ve always really loved doing, but I never really did it in high school,” he said. “We had open mic nights, but I just never really felt comfortable.” 

Although Bisaga had his fair share of nerves, he decided to perform anyway. He described thinking to himself, “might as well,” noting that it was a queer and judgement-free space.

“I [felt] like the audience was going to be much more understanding and accepting, and not care if I mess up,” he said. “I was able to just focus on the music and not think about [being] in front of a crowd. It was really lovely and exhilarating, and it’s nice to feel like [the audience is] appreciating what I’m doing.”

Charlotte Meigs SC ’23 attended with hopes of meeting people and getting to know the LGBTQIA+ community at the 5Cs. 

“It’s been an awesome time,” Meigs said. “I really loved all of the songs and poems. They really resonated with different aspects of [my experience], so I really loved that.”

Endlich was very happy with how the event turned out. 

“I think it went off without a hitch,” she said.

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