Above photo of J Mase III during the performance. Photo credit: Richard Lee

“If you ever feel a need to reach into your throat and call me a fag again, you must start to say it with some damn respect.” So was J Mase III’s ending line to “Faggot,” an amusing poem precisely because there is nothing funny about it. The poem reflected the many challenges the queer community has had to go through in the process of finding love and respect within themselves.

J Mase III, an outstanding transgender poet, was one of the many performers who shared their stories in the fundraising event ‘Custom-made Queer: Embrace’ which took place on Friday February 21st. The event, hosted by Unity-Gay Straight Alliance,  was put on to raise money for a large-scale high school “Gay Prom.”

“Custom made queer” served as a platform to empower the voice of the Berkeley City College community, where students and professional performers shared the stage to talk about their personal stories. It not only entertained the audience, but also ignited inspiration and moved the audience in a personal way.


The GSA sold their awesome tee design at the event. Photo credit: Richard Lee.

For instance, Doctor Cora Leighton performed a piece about her friend, a conflicted homosexual who committed suicide. Leighton narrates a story of a woman who put on a mask every time she went out but then struggled on her own. It was a very dark piece, yet it showed the warmth of Leighton’s love as she narrated her friend’s story.

The ability to share their stories empowered both audience and performers. This event gave an opportunity for all people to reflect, and demonstrated that their voices mattered. The performers’ powerful voices and full embrace of love, anger and sorrow reached out to those who shared similar experiences.

“I had a long past myself. This performance made me think a lot about my past and it was really inspiring” said Andrew Mickelson, a member of the Unity-GSA..

“It was definitely eye-opening when you present the queer community through the art of spoken word, it makes it more inclusive” said Olivia Morgan, another member of the Unity-GSA. “It was an event that anybody could enjoy.”


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