Seated sudent plays guitar and sings in front of a screen that says

Uplifting LGBTQ+ Voices features original poetry, songs, and authentic experiences

October 2, 2023
By: Guest Contributor

The second “Uplifting LGBTQ+ Voices” event during Worcester State’s annual Unity Day brought students together for poetry, music, and sharing of personal experiences.

Uplifting LGBTQ+ Voices is a panel dedicated to fostering Worcester State’s LGBTQ+ community and culture through creative work by members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as conversation sparked by both the panelist’s insights and audience involvement and discussion.

Joss Bracero performed two pieces of original work at this year’s Uplifting LGBTQ+ Voices.

This year, the event showcased the talents of two students who shared their work. Joss Bracero, who uses any pronouns, is a senior English major, and shared two pieces. The first, titled, “Out the Bedroom Door,” is a poem with a deeply introspective and thoughtful exploration into the intricately intimate experience of coming out. Here is an excerpt:

Are you transgender? It’s an accusation,
Even if I can tell you are trying to shape your tone
Into a barbed swaddle of support.
That newly formed crinkle between your eyes,
The stiff line of your mouth, practically the image
Of holding your tongue.
What do you want my answer to be?
What would you really believe?

Joss’s second piece was a song titled “To My Shame” with lyrics focused on interpersonal struggle when one’s own identity is a source of turmoil. Here is one verse:

I wrote this song on the train for you
Cuz I was dreading going back to my apartment
Dreading facing who neither of us really want to be
Who I don’t want to be anymore

Ashton (Ash) Verdi (he/him), the second panelist and a junior psychology major with a music composition/technology minor, shared one work this year, a song titled “5th Fret.” Ash’s composition was wrought with emotion, drawing on some of the harsh realities of the transgender experience. The song, honest and solemn, maintained a soothing quality and tempted tears from some of the attendees.

Panelists at the Uplifting LGBTQ+ Voices included LGBTQIA+ Resource Center Assistant Director Alison Park, Professor Riley McGuire, and students Ash Verdi and Joss Bracero.

After the art showcase, the session moved into a Q&A with the panelists. Questions included thoughts about the panelists’ own experiences (positive and negative) in regard to finding community and belonging as an LGBTQ+ person at Worcester State. Additionally, they were asked to share any advice for other students in this context.

The panelists then shared their thoughts surrounding the place of art in their lives and the role of their positions in the LGBTQ+ community in their art. The responses given by both Joss and Ash centered on the importance of expressing oneself authentically—and, to that end, how art can provide an outlet for that expression.

After the Q&A, the closing activity was a turn-and-talk based on new ideas, personal positive experiences of community, and perhaps most importantly: suggestions for ways to continue to improve the support for the LGBTQ+ community members at Worcester State. Among the goals that came up: everyone should challenge themselves to strive toward an ever safer and more inclusive environment that supports the success and happiness of all students.

Contributing writer Nathaniel Barker is a senior majoring in English and an intern at the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center. Photos by Colin Joyal.

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