GSA Cabaret: An Opportunity to Celebrate Our Differences

If you are a musical theatre kid here at Western Reserve Academy, you will know that every year our GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) puts on a karaoke night, free for all students to participate in. This event, known as Cabaret, celebrated our diversity and love through music written by famously LGBT artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, and Freddy Mercury. While the tradition is still quite new to our school, I have been lucky enough in the two years I have been here to share in the hilarity, emotion, and rapture that makes up the night.

This year, we had our regulars in the form of Bicknell’s Dead Gay Jesus, Dr. Lisabeth Robinson in sequence, Mrs. Midge Karam ’79 clapping louder than the entirety of the crowd, and Duncan Ostrom ’17, the president of the GSA. We also had a plethora of newcomers. Freshmen took the plunge and sang out Genghis Khan and Stay With Me. Seniors who could not curb their curiosity ended up waist deep in starbursts and couch cushions, shrieking in excitement upon discovering that their favorite artists where as straight as a parabola. The food was amazing, cupcakes frosted with every color of the rainbow, and drinks color-coded to resemble the pride flag. The decorations were loud and impossible to ignore: glitter everywhere and streamers hanging above our heads. I cried when Aiden Johnson ’18 poured his heart and soul into David Bowie. I laughed myself to tears at Carmen Majewski ’20 and Ashleigh Sherman’s ’20 cover of I Kissed A Girl. I swallowed my tongue when it was time to go up myself and do justice to a song that held a special place in my heart.

The thing that brings me the most joy, however, is the number of people who show up to watch, and end up frantically signing up halfway through the show to join in the music and laughter and unadulterated fun. And you do not have to be a member of GSA, or even identify within the LGBT community, to join in and sing. Cabaret is a celebration of our differences, our talents, and our love that will continue on until someday our kids show up here and nervously get on that stage for the first time. Each new four-year-generation will eat rainbow cupcakes and take selfies with Dead Gay Jesus and sing Bohemian Rhapsody at the end of the night.

Freshman year, I came out for the very first time. Hundreds of miles from home, with my hair chopped off and my fingers crossed for what I hoped would be a chance to be me for the first time. Freshman year, I walked up on that stage, surrounded by friends and teachers and what I can recognize as the WRA family, and saw that my hope was not in vain. It is sophomore year, and my participation has grown from timidly singing in rainbow suspenders and shaved off hair, to arriving three hours early and decorating the Green Key in pride flags and skittles. Cabaret is not just a chance to eat pink and blue cupcakes and bust out the glitter; it is a reminder that we are all loved, that our love is not questioned, and that no matter where we come from, we have got each other’s back. On that note, I encourage each and every one of you to put on a pair of high heels next year and belt out Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.

-Harley Fisher ’19

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