Over forty students from across the country tuned into the third installment in the Yale Trans Visibility Series on Thursday night.
The event, which was sponsored by a number of Yale organizations including the Office of LGBTQ Resources, the Ethnicity, Race and Migration department and the Schwarzman Center, included performances by two California-based musicians: Freddie (@eastbayvicious) and Ezra Michel (@ezramichelmusic). Yalie and musician Ale Campillo ’22 hosted the event.
“The real impetus for this event was that I wanted us to have a night where we just celebrated trans life and transgender joy through the medium of art and music,” Campillo said.
Michel started off his set with an acoustic performance of “Man of My Dreams”, an original song inspired by his desire to live as his authentic self. During the performance, audience members were welcomed to show their support and encouragement in the chat.
After his performance of “Man of My Dreams”, Michel shared with the audience the particularly important role the song has played in his life.
“That song was definitely very cathartic to write, I realized that I certainly have grown up to be quite literally the man of my dreams and it was like my first little love song to myself,” Michel said.
Before handing the performance over to Freddie, Michel played a second original song, Girl Baby. Like Man of My Dream, Girl Baby reflected his experience as a trans man, however, Girl Baby focused more specifically on his ideal image of a parent of a trans child.
As up and coming musicians, both Michel and Freddie hoped to showcase some of their talents as lyricists, vocalists and performers. While both artists create content largely based on their experiences as trans individuals, Michel and Freddie took vastly different roads to get where they are today. After years of struggling with addiction and other mental health issues, Michel sought to use music as a tool to help him heal.
Freddie, on the other hand, used songwriting as a tool to gain greater acceptance of their individuality.
“It wasn’t until I really started writing my own music that I feel like I found my own voice and I found what I felt singing,” Freddie said. “In terms of writing music, it’s always been a really emotional experience for me where I can investigate complex feelings.”
Last year, Freddie released their debut EP Melanin Monroe. An exploration of their identity as a Black non-binary individual in the Bay Area, the EP allowed them to “show love to [their] community and the people around [them]”. Freddie emphasized the importance of knowing one’s community in getting to know themself.
Following the performance of their sets, the event turned to an audience Q&A. When asked where he hoped to see himself in 10 years, Michel expressed his desire to become a household name.
“I want people to know who Ezra the trans artist is,” Michel said “And I think, growing up I had almost had zero representation of trans masc individuals who are also very femme and I thought I wouldnt be allowed to be who I was for so long. So just being visible is very important for me.”
Similar to Michel, Freddie saw themselves further along on their journey of self-discovery, and with luck, with a few Grammys, as well.
The fourth and final event in the Yale Trans Visibility Series will take place on March 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility, and will feature trans creatives Laith Ashley and Ah Mer Ah Shu.
Marissa Blum | firstname.lastname@example.org