CSUB Celebrates Coming Out Stories at Expression Nights

Yasmin Marcelo, Staff Writer

For the month of October, CSUB’s Campus Programming department organized an Expression Nights event to celebrate members of the LGBTQ+ community and to give them a safe space to artistically express themselves.   

Expression Nights is a monthly event where CSUB students are encouraged to participate. Although this month’s event was arranged to highlight the LGBTQ+ community, the show was also an open mic night. Campus Programming student staff, Julian Pereyra, shares, “Whether this be singing, painting, dancing, etc, all art forms are performed at Expression Nights”. 

Pereyra also explains how, since the university already celebrates OUTober, “We have an Expression Nights dedicated to students saying their coming out stories”. 

According to Campus Programming student staff, Viviana Ramirez, details how they worked hand in hand with the planning committee for OUTober to organize the event. She explains, “This year, we decided to bring in Drag Queens due to the event originally going to be on National Coming Out Day”.  

The event, formally entitled, Expression Nights: Coming Out Stories, started out with 11 coming out stories from volunteer speakers. 

It was wonderful seeing so many members of the LGBTQ+ community stand up and take their turn with the mic to share a little bit about themselves. It shows how comfortable they felt in the environment and is a testament to the safe place the event was able to create for them. 

CSUB student, Arjun Ynostroza, describes how “Hearing everyone’s coming out story was very emotionally impactful, some being hilarious and others heart-wrenching.” 

 The show also featured two drag queens and concluded with final remarks from Dr. Bre Evans-Santiago. The two drag queens, Avairrianna and Sasha Moore, both shared their coming out stories as well and treated the audience with two performances each.  

Avairriana gave two dance numbers. Her second one involved her making an entrance in an inflatable dinosaur suit while the Jurassic Park theme song played in the background. She then heated up the stage by dancing in heels while still donning the dinosaur suit.  

Sasha Moore’s first number was a soulful rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. Her second was a fabulous lip sync performance of Chloe Bailey’s “Have Mercy”.  

The drag queen numbers really brought up the energy of the crowd and spiced up the evening. Ynostroza, Pereyra, and Ramirez all cite the performances as their favorite part of the event. 

If there was one thing both Pereyra and Ramirez agree that they would change, it would only be being able to make the fog machine work. Also, Ramirez would have liked to have a bit more lights and decoration. 

Aside from those minor dissatisfactions, they both state how pleased they are with this month’s Expression Nights’ turnout and how the event went in general. Pereyra expresses, “For our Latinx Heritage Month Expression Nights, we didn’t have that big of a turn out, so seeing the amount of people that showed up was very nice and a little surprising”. Ramirez says, “We did run out of chairs for people to sit in. We had people on the side, standing up to be there to participate in the event, to enjoy some ice cream, [and] to connect with the community”. 

The main design of the stage was a door enclosed with rainbow-colored lights, which Ynostroza describes as “Very reflective of the coming out theme”.  

As for the promotion side, Ramirez, Pereyra, and Ynostroza all say that they believe the university did a great job advertising the event. Ramirez emphasized how well it was advertised, considering the time constraint they were under and this period of uncertainty because of COVID. She also states how some more flyers and posters could help spread more information about similar events in the future.