Simmons Alliance holds “Break the Silence” open mic night

Sophie Caulton, Staff Writer

Simmons Alliance held a “Day of Silence,” modeled after GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), to spread awareness about LGBTQ bullying on April 28. Alliance commemorated the end of the day with a “Break the Silence” open mic night, where people used their voices and celebrated their identities after not speaking all day. 

Serena Godin, a senior in the sociology and public policy 3+1 program, is the treasurer of Simmons Alliance. She described the inspiration behind the event––“We’ve spent the whole day being silent to mimic the way that LGBTQ voices are silenced in the classroom…this is our time to speak, sing, perform, and express ourselves however we want after a whole day of silence. It’s a really big celebration.”

With about twenty people in the audience, anyone could go on the stage and perform. The night started with Simmons Alliance president Apollo Correia’s poem, “Silence is Violence,” about learning to feel proud of his identity and finding his voice. 

Many of the performances were about love, such as Amina Cathey’s “Dreality” and Tayanita Watson’s poems “On Fire” and “Dead Language.” Others were impromptu, such as when Godin wrote a five-line poem while sitting in the audience and got up on stage to perform it.

The open mic night got a special appearance from Davine Holness, Behavioral Health Services Manager of Boston GLASS, a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth of color. She performed a piece about life as a Black woman through the lens of her hair journey. Holness told the audience, “maybe y’all can give [her piece] a name.”

According to Correia, Alliance used to be one of the biggest student organizations on campus. However, it mostly dissolved when it moved to Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They said, “I’ve been a part of Alliance since I was a freshman…This year, being no more upperclassmen, I wanted to step up and try to bring back this club that has such a history at Simmons.”

Correia has spent the past year rebuilding Simmons Alliance. He was the only member left from previous years, so he recruited friends as e-board members. Correia credits his friends for helping him “gain the strength to bring a practically new club to the school.” 

When asked about Correia’s vision for the future, they said, “I am hoping to bring back Alliance traditions and have a club that will outlast me. Especially since I restarted it this year, I hope Alliance is a solid club in the Simmons ecosystem…Alliance is here to stay and we’ve never really gone away.”

E-board members spoke of Correia’s impact. Amina Cathey, a neuroscience major, said, “Apollo has been such a big driving force.” Cathey was inspired to join Alliance as the director of Diversity Equity Inclusion because “I want to challenge myself and be more involved. I feel like sometimes, as a Black queer person, there sometimes seems not to be enough outreach to include people of color in the conversation and have our voices be heard… I want to be able to contribute and support my friend [Correia] as well.”

A message that continued to come up from performers and e-board members was of pride. Godin said, “I want people to take away from tonight that when you have the opportunity to speak, absolutely take it. Say what your heart thinks because the open mic is there. Anyone can take it. It’s up to you to take that opportunity and have the courage. We’re all here supporting you.”