Find Your Silver Lining In These 7 Stories (Free Speech April 2018)

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For April’s installment of Free Speech, we filed into our west end PDX store to hear tales about finding the silver lining– the break in the clouds, the moral of the story, the good that resulted from the bad, etc. We switched the status quo this month and had 7 amazing storytellers, all of which were either non-binary (gender non-conforming) or male identified! It was a true blue treat to hear different perspectives and give some space for these amazing folks to be heard.

We were also without our usual host extraordinaire (and WF CEO extraordinaire), BUT the silver lining of that fact was that we were lucky to bring back a very special member of the extended Wildfang family to emcee our evening… He may or may not have even been a storyteller at this exact Free Speech one year prior…  

Our host for April was the enigmatic BRITTAIN J JACKSON 

Brittain is Co-Creator and Co-Host of VillageVibesPodcast, a podcast that centers on a wide variety of conversations from social justice, pop culture, and the POC experience in Portland (to name a few). He has traveled and worked nationally (and internationally) as a professional modern and ballet dancer, yoga guide, and now is excited he has added Host/Emcee to the repertoire.

Our 7 rad as hell speakers brought their hearts and a-game to the mini stage. Without further ado, take a listen to tales from Biff, Charles, Rob, Levi, Nikki, Cairo, and Jaycen.

***CONTENT WARNING– MANY STORIES CONTAIN HARSH LANGUAGE, THE 6TH STORY MENTIONS SEXUAL ASSAULT & DRUGS

1. BIFF CHAPLOW: “ACCIDENTAL PARENTHOOD”

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

Biff is a stay-at-home dad, social worker, and artist. He’s passionate about economic, racial, and criminal justice. You can often find him ruffling through his bag trying to find chapstick.

Biff shares the story of how he stumbled into being a parent.

2. CHARLES SHEFFER: “SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW”

PRONOUNS: THEY/THEM

Charles is a Non-Binary hairstylist, artist, and Michigan transplant. They love listening to bad pop music, going to burlesque shows, and making people feel good.

Charles speaks on being a visible trans adult.

3. ROB LAUTA: “CHARISMA”

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

Rob is a performer of all trades– Acting, improv, writing, and singing. While he’s not great at a choreographed dance he can get down with a car jam. Catch him performing at Funhouse Lounge and Deep end theater, or doing his thing or next month at Shaking The Tree theatre in “an interlude in bird song” (come check it out!).

Rob recounts about what, and who, has made him who he is.

4. LEVI CHOUINARD: “THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FABULOUS”

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

Levi Chouinard is queer, trans, and a proudly self-proclaimed ‘crybaby’. His very first job may or may not have been at a canary farm, but these days he’s kickin’ butt as the Wildfang Fort Supervisor. This Oregon born bb is also the proud father to two sweet orange boys– one reptile, and the other feline.

Levi reminiscences on unknowingly growing up gay as f*ck.

5. NIKKI BURIAN: “ESCAPE THROUGH PERFORMANCE”

PRONOUNS: THEY/THEM

Nikki Burian is a queer, nonbinary slam poet living in Portland, OR. They are a recipient of the 2011 Iowa Poetry in Public awards, have been featured in Woke Monozine, and are a 2018 National Poetry Slam representative of the Portland team. They are the author of two very okay chapbooks: I Hope My Cat Doesn’t Have Self-Esteem Issues (2016) and Kindergarten Memory Spiral (coming spring 2018). Check out their work here!

Nikki shares about finding performance art through an abusive relationship.

6. CAIRO LEVIAS: “EMPTY BOTTLES AS CHURCH BELLS”

PRONOUNS: THEY/THEM

Cairo is a model, stylist, and all around artist from Portland Oregon. They are secretly (or not so secretly) a romantic poet.

Cairo shares about the silver lining between their past selves and their present.

7. JAYCEN MARCUS: “BOYS DON’T CRY: THE DAY I BECAME A MAN”

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

Jaycen Marcus is a 23 old trans man, although sees himself as a more androgynous individual. He attended George Fox University for Sociology and Psychology, and received the Equity Foundation 2014 award for his activism at Fox that sparked a national conversation in regards to creating safe and all-inclusive spaces for trans* identified individuals attending private, religious universities. In his free time, Jaycen loves to read, write, hike, dance, and engage in deep or challenging conversations.

Jaycen’s story is about discovering his authentic self through the distorted mirror of masculinity.

— stay tuned for more Free Speech in JUNE where we shake things up– we will hear stories on the theme PRIDE

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