Recap for Rainbow Box

Rainbow Box by Melissa Harward

From the LGBTQ Community, Rabbit Box presents the final chapter of 2014: “Rainbow Box.” A special thanks goes to Matthew Epperson and our Master of Ceremonies of the evening, Katherine Edmonds, for working hard to put this amazing night together.

“Athens is not the Deep South,” I overhear from the crowd. Glancing around the Melting Point’s lounge, that much is clear. For those who call Athens home, the South’s connotations of ignorance and cruelty have been replaced by diversity, creativity, and acceptance. Like a separate pocket full of treasured, lucky items, our Classic City is a safe haven for those who think and love differently.

Katherine Edmonds of the famous mattress story was our Master of Ceremonies for this evening of bravery, openness, and great storytelling. The ten stories referenced below span each group of the acronym—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer—cultivating a true sense of community. With moments of both heartbreaking honesty and stomach-clenching hilarity, it wasn’t a night to be missed. Luckily, you can catch the recording and summary of each performance here.

Tara Stuart, our first storyteller and karaoke aficionado, regaled the Rabbit Box audience with the origin of Athens’ first Lesbian Olympic Summer Games. With boob medals on the line, the bikini-clad competition grew fierce (and a little messy). Jealous? You should be.

“Are you sure you’re bi?” It’s a question Elsa Durusau is sick of hearing. For those who identify as bisexual, being “on the fence” isn’t actually a reality. After a night out by herself, and with a little unexpected help, Elsa is able to settle into place where the only choice to make is to be herself.

Noah James Saunders spoke on coming up and out in a community filled with hatred for his identity. As a student, Noah decides to fight for social justice in the face of death threats, abuse, and the turned-heads of administrators. A surprising win emerges from gay-hating Cobb County.

James de Molyneux and Rex Crawford have an anniversary to celebrate this week. Although they were raised without a model on how to be together in their respective Southern communities, they’ve built a life together for 35 years. Congratulations to them both. This is the story of how they met.

Our Crackerjack Surprise storyteller of the evening was Valorie McGovern (a natural, as you’ll see), who provided a glimpse into the dynamics of a loving family who gets it right when reacting to news — sent via a funny e-mail — of their daughter’s coming out. This was Valorie’s first Rabbit Box story, and we hope she returns as an official storyteller soon!

From Rashaun Ellis, we learned that Memphis punk queers don’t put up with much. Rashaun gave us a glimpse of the types of inner conflict found within the LGBTQ community itself, as those who color within the lines of the rainbow sometimes look down on those who dare to define themselves outside of it.

Jay Morris, a rare native of Athens, was “that church kid” growing up until the divide between his identity as a gay black man drove him away from the religious community that raised him. In an effort to be authentic, Jay puts his push and pull to poetry at Athens’ Word of Mouth and finds a new community.

Sometimes there’s a fairytale written between the lines of a tragedy. After years of failed marriages and inner conflict, Rhett Crowe discovers there is only one way to feel comfortable in your own skin: Leave denial behind and embrace who you are.

For someone born in the wrong body, the realization that change is possible can be a powerful driving force. For Riley Kirkpatrick, growing through the inner land mines of puberty, tackling addiction, and learning to embrace the person inside was a laborious journey that lead him home to Athens.

The evening concluded with rolling tears and laughter as Mike Musgrove took to the stage, leading us down a winding trail of self-discovery and self-hate. I won’t give anything away here, but this is one story you don’t want to miss.

Rabbit Box will return next year on the second Thursday of each month. Happy holidays to each of you, and see you on January 8th for “May I Help You?: Stories from the Service Industry.”