The closeted agenda of the Open Mic

With T&T Pride fast approaching, I can’t help but re-call my pleasant and not so pleasant experiences in July 2010. So here goes … As a lover of the arts, I have frequented the open mics spots and live shows, which have grown considerably in popularity and demand over the past five years. I myself having performed in various events, mostly advancing a feminist agenda through spoken word and readings. Last year I decided that it was seemingly ludicrous that Pride should come and go and never be addressed within the local art spaces designed for open expression.

In an attempt to ameliorate this dis service to the population at large, I approached a friend of mine – a host of an open mic and explained my concept in hopes of sharing at the next session. In preparation for this event I asked my mother if she would be willing to sew some pink triangles for me as a gift to the audience. For those of you who are not aware,

homosexuals were forced to wear pink triangles during the Holocaust to identify them as such. This triangle was later inverted to represent a symbol of pride. This request was a big one, considering my mother’s feelings about homosexuality but she did it anyway … for me. I was immensely grateful.

On the night of the show I was told I was up next and then a minute later that I couldn’t perform. Completely flabbergasted by this series of events I was given a speech by the host … MY FRIEND that due to further consideration (over the past minute or so) that the content of my presentation may be offensive to members of the audience. She further went on to say that they were running a business and had to be concerned with public perception. In the end I agreed to do my spoken word piece but not talk about PRIDE or give out my triangles. In retrospect I’m still not sure whether or not this was the right decision. Sometimes when you are faced with unexpected situations, your reaction can be unpredictable. I did however express my displeasure with the handling of the situation and made it quite clear that I had no intentions of attending any future events.

The ordeal did however motivate me to approach other open mics, the hosts of which I also knew. Two times over I was again shut down, with one individual not even having the courtesy to respond to my email. Needless to say, the whole experience was very eye opening to just how closed these open mics really were.

Walking the road that I have chosen, politically and ideologically, I have already resigned myself to loosing friends and perhaps even the respect of peers but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback by the reaction of these so called liberals who I thought were providing spaces for people like me to create a better world. Once again I was reminded to stay in my place as woman, as feminist, as lesbian, as educator and as freedom fighter.

Barefoot Contessa