Through the eyes of a queer and transgender American, poet Kit Yan read love poems, slam poetry and coming-out stories to more than 70 students Monday night.
The Coming Out Week Keynote Speaker performed in the Kiva Auditorium, revealing stories of how he came to realize his self-identification.
“Gender is America’s control, nationalism, bullshit,” he said in his slam poetry. “My gender is F-you, mind your own business.”
Yan made a metaphor saying it’s not as easy as picking gender, identity and social construction as it is picking food from a grocery store.
“All the years I felt like battle became harmony,” he said in a poem about meeting someone, who made the rejection he’s received from community regarding his sexual orientation. “She was sunlight on hard ice and I’m slow coming back to life.”
The poet used art through words to describe his sexual encounters with men and women. The room was intently listening.
Yan talked about his experience with straight speed-dating.
“I was out of place,” he said. “I thought if I gave up on being queer, I could find someone that let me be all the bullshit I fought so hard against.”
Office of LGBTQ Services intern Lauren Kellog said Yan’s talent shines through in his descriptive storytelling.
“It’s important to be able to laugh about growing up,” the Lake Orion senior said. “He brings a lot of things to light.”
Yan reminisced of his mom stressing the importance of family, and asked the hard questions, which she accepted with “OK.”
Chelsea freshman Ashley Tisdale said his performance was powerful.
“He seems passionate about his work,” she said. “He is very good with words.”
Mount Pleasant sophomore Sean VanEvery said Yan seemed conscious of the audience.
“He apologized for not using general-neutral pronouns,” he said. “I loved that.”
Yan is featured in the HBO documentary “Asians Aloud” and spoke at the 2009 National Equality March on the San Francisco Pride main stage. He was a top-three finalist at the 2010 National Queer Slam and is the first Mr. Transman 2010.
Shannon Jolliff-Dettore, director of LGBTQ Services, said Yan has a dynamic ability to deliver content through spoken word.
“Kit has an ability to hit on both race and gender and I was looking for a speaker that would be able to talk about intersectionality while also entertaining the crowd,” she said.
Dettore said events put on by LGBTQ services are for the entire campus community.
“Students that identify outside of the LGBTQ community sometimes make up the crowd just as much,” she said. “The students seem very excited about his performance as spoken word and slam poetry are very popular on our campus.”
The keynote speaker is part of Coming Out Week, taking place on campus until Thursday.