This past Thursday, Lounge hosted Sister Outsider, an award-winning poetry duo whose name alludes to the book “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – an Audre Lorde Collection. Advocates, Lambda, LGBTQ Initiatives and the Center for Women’s Studies co-sponsored this event as part of Colgate’s annual Queerfest.
Many of the themes of the night followed dominant trends in Lorde’s essays and speeches, including intersectionality, oppression, homophobia, racism and sexism. The house was decorated with cardboard signs from the 2014 sit-in, including slogans like “I 2 AM COLGATE,” “CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?” and “WE ARE NOT YOUR STATISTIC.”
One of the major goals of Queerfest is to bring awareness to queer and marginalized identities on campus through conversation. Lounge accomplished this through student poetry readings, a performance of The Black Keys’ “These Days” by junior Danny Levy and news about events and changes around campus. Students celebrated the recent change to the Colgate portal that allows students to change their personal pronouns to reflect their identities.
Excellent poetry performances by students, including junior Chantel Melendez, sophomore Lücién Reubens and first-year Shyenne Parris, began at 7 p.m., warming up the stage for Sister Outsider’s arrival at 9 p.m.
As for Sister Outsider, performers and individual Women of the World Poetry Slam Champions Dominique Christina and Denice Frohman, covered a lot of ground. First kisses – particularly gay first kisses – violence against women, periods, gayness, fighting oppression, humor, righteous anger and some sadness all came up over the course of the night.
“I was absolutely excited when Sister Outsider came to perform because these women are absolutely incredible and I love that they are using their knowledge to incite change through the younger generations. They aren’t afraid to be honest with their audience and their delivery captures the attention of the whole room and turns it into something magical,” Reubens said.
“Listening to Sister Outsider was wonderful. Their poetry and performance was enlightening, thought-provoking and enjoyable,” senior Monica Hoh said. “It was also all the emotions, and they did such a wonderful job at pinpointing images and places and specific memories or events with their words.”
“I loved them so much because they made me feel so many different emotions – anger, despair and joy. They were a breath of fresh air and I was really thankful that they shared their personal stories through poetry with us. I intend on watching more of their poetry online,” senior Alanna Ticali said.
Sister Outsider certainly brought down the house. They had a responsive audience in students who connected to their themes, jokes and ideals.
“They believe in interrupting narrow spaces. They believe in introducing students to the wider function of language and art as activism. They believe in celebrating their ‘otherness’ and calling into account the systematic and institutionalized practices that see people of color, women, LGBTQ communities and historically and contemporarily marginalized communities, minimized and erased in society, and thereby in curricula,” their website says.
Christina, who has won multiple national slam poetry titles and is also a former Olympic volleyball star, is a writer, performer and activist influenced by a family history in the Civil Rights Movement. She has also been a licensed teacher for over 10 years. Frohman, too, has received wide recognition for her writing, and is a lyricist and educator as well.