Love Letters to Nobody, by Maybe Burke

Michaela,

I’m sorry I gave Lands your name. I know it’s something we should have agreed upon first, but Michaela, I didn’t mean to scare him. I didn’t know he would hurt you like that. I had no idea that telling him I was a girl would- I didn’t even know we were going with Michaela. I always thought you would be Nicole. Mom always wanted a Lauren, but I think she wanted to be the one to name her. But I also don’t think I should have such a blatant girl name. I’m not even a girl, I’m just closer to that than any other word you could think to give me. So we’ll call you Michaela, but you’re not the right option for me. You are the woman I never got to be. The person that everyone seems to be scared I’ll become. The girl I can’t commit to becoming. I’ve learned so much from you, but telling him that you exist just proved to me that you don’t. You’re not the final answer. I’m still me, just not the me people think they see. Maybe I’ll find another name, but we can work together to make you a more substantial part of my life. I just need to make sense of all of these people I think I could be and find one concrete person.

 
Hey Cado,

You did the thing. You called me the thing. You said the word .. Uhm. You called me han.. Uh. You called me handsome. And that’s not. Uhm. It’s not like a slip up, it’s not an accident.. it’s your opinion. And I know you think it was a compliment but it’s just ..a thing that I can’t hear. I guess I should have brought this up earlier, but I never know how much is too much too soon. You can’t call me that. Look, when I was in college, having what I was calling my sexual revolution, but what I now refer to as .. “college..” I was lonely and making a lot of mistakes and I had this one night stand. This was the year I went through the rainbow in hair dye, so at this point I was blood red, like Little Mermaid red. Me and some guy were having sex, on my bunk bed, and he like put his hand over my hair so he couldn’t see it anymore and he told me “you’re so handsome.” Like, I know people call Angelica Houston handsome and if I really wanted gender equality words wouldn’t have implications of gender, he tried every kind of retort here. But I asked him not to do that and he just kept telling me I was handsome. I was a handsome man. So I get it. You think that’s a compliment. But I’m telling you it’s not.

 
Dear ..oh I don’t even remember your name.

I’m quite aware that I am the first trans person that a lot of people meet. So, statistically, it makes sense that I’m also the first trans person most of those people date. Which is fine, I don’t mind being different than what you’re used to. What I don’t like is being your training wheels. I like talking about gender and identity, but I’m not a fucking encyclopedia. We sat at lunch for two whole hours talking about my gender. Okay, to be fair you weren’t as bad as the date that literally asked for photo ID. We went over where you work and went to school, but from the second the food came it was Trans 101 and I was Professor Exploited. “When did you know you were different? Do you know Laverne Cox? I heard that hormones are actually really bad for you. Two gay brothers? And you? Ugh, your poor father…” Pretty invasive stuff for someone I just met to be asking me when all I know is that you work in finance. When the check came, I went to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to pretend to try to pay for my meal. When I came back you said “So, I noticed you came out of the Men’s room,” but all I noticed was that you didn’t pay the check.

 

Context: Love Letters to Nobody is a solo piece by Maybe Burke. These are standalone monologues that don’t have character names, and pronouns can be malleable. Please reach out to the playwright at maybeburke.com if you’d like to learn more.

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Alex, by Jamie Zeske

Alex (any female or gender neutral pronouns):

I know what you want me to say, about coming out: the secret shame, the “It Gets Better,” the well-adjusted gay adult embracing marriage equality, but that’s not me. That’s not how it happened. My coming out wasn’t this all-in-one, family dinner, Facebook post I could just get it over with all at once, it’s a lifelong process. Starting back in elementary school with jerks (“You’re a faggot”) and my friends (“Everyone thinks I’m gay just cuz I’m friends with you”) and my Junior High boyfriend (“Everyone knows about you, and if everyone knows about you they’ll know about me, and if they know about me I’ll never talk to you again, I’ll hate you, I’ll hurt you.”) And then in High School, my Drama teachers (“Bisexuality is a lie! It’s a phase, pick a lane!”) I never felt shame for who I was or who I wanted to be with, but shame was planted inside of me. All I knew is I liked people, and hugging and laughing, and sharing secrets at sleepovers. But shame was planted in me and so I carried it around. I carried it through trying out for cheer leading and, “Why are you friends with only girls?” and getting my head slammed into tile and knocking out my two front teeth on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. And so I carried it. And then I started to find words that made a bit more sense to me, like “transgender” and “genderqueer” and “woman trapped in a man’s body,” except I’m not trapped in a man’s body, I’m trapped in a man’s role. So I came out, again in 2012 to my family, my friends, my co-workers. They all know I’m a girl. Everyone knows I’m a girl but still all day, every day, I have to come out. To gas station clerks, to customers, to Lyft drivers, to therapists, to Grindr hookups, to the lawyer for my DWI case. Everyone knows I’m a girl, or “that I think I’m a girl,” but still, all day, every day, I get a lot of “sir”s and “bro”s…being treated as a man even though I’m a woman, even I begin to question it, it gets in my head. The shame and doubt are planted too. So I have to look at myself, and come out to myself: as a queer, as a woman, of someone worthy of love, as someone with a lot of love to give. And when I do that, it gets better.

Context about the monologue: This is an original stand-alone monologue from a video project.

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Cam, from Women March on Washington by Christine Kallman

Spring 2016. Early morning. We are in a hilly and wooded area in Northeast Iowa.
CAM (they/them) is dressed in outdoor wear with a backpack. They hear a low drumming sound.

 

CAM. Do you hear that?
Pause. CAM hears the low drumming sound again.
Ruffed Grouse. [beat] You won’t see them. They’re hiding in the deep brush. This tract — this hardwood forest— was saved from tilling because of the steep slopes and rocky soil. Perfect for grouse. And probably forty other species of birds.
Look! See the hawk? Red-tailed hawk. And those over there— turkey vultures.
This is what I love about my job.
Out here I always feel totally content.
I suppose I should be afraid, although I’ve never had anyone follow me out here.
I’ve been threatened, you know. Followed at night.
More times than you can imagine.
Pause. CAM listens and hears the grouse again.
We hear it in springtime. The male grouse make the sound by rotating their wings.
In some species, behavior is not so gender-specific. Birds, butterflies, a lot of insects
have both male and female characteristics. But I’m not going to try to make a lot of arguments comparing human and animal behavior. I used to do that.
Used to have detailed arguments. But you know,
people are just going to believe what they want to believe.

I don’t bring people here, generally.
I don’t want to expose this delicate environment to a lot of traffic.
I do bring my students here. This summer we sampled twelve streams
to measure aquatic diversity. Here’s what we found:
Streams like the one here— that have more diversity of life—
they’re healthier and better able to overcome stressors, like drought.
CAM starts down the hill.
Watch your step. I’ll take you down now. Down to the spring.
CAM walks down, then stops next to a stream. The gentle rush of water.
Always, when I’m out in nature, the— agony—
about who other people think I am—
just—
disappears.
Am I a woman? Am I a man?
On the street, in the grocery store, with a student. At a party. They’re looking at me funny.
They want to categorize me. It makes them so uncomfortable not to know.
What to do with me?
And I could say, well, I was designated female at birth.
But I don’t feel like a woman. Never have.
On the other hand, I don’t feel like a man either. It doesn’t fit for me.
Since it’s closer, I do generally present more like a man.
But I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want surgery
and I don’t want to give up the feminine parts of myself.
It’s funny. As a scientist, I’m always placing things in categories.
And I could tell you all about the way scientists are looking at gender
on a spectrum now— not just two choices.

But mainly, I want to make the point that
we are too quick to categorize people. Not just on gender,
but on a whole gamut
of characteristics. There is something really screwed up
about the way we put people in boxes.
Listen. People are not who you think they are.
Not a single one.
You think you’ve got someone pegged?
You don’t.
People are not what they seem.
And even if you could figure them out,
they’re like this stream. They’re always changing.
Being fed by something deep underground.
Pause. CAM puts their hand in the stream.
Personally, I find that refreshing.

 

More info: Character name is Cam (they/them). The scene is roughly in the middle of a full-length play (in development) entitled Women March on Washington. It received a reading this spring in Northfield, MN, with actors of diverse age, race and gender.

Playwright: Christine Kallman. I can be reached at my website, christinekallman.com.

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Trans And Relative Dimensions In Space, by Ayla Sullivan

I’ve been telling myself for a long time there’s gotta be an easier way to come out to my family. An accessible way. No academic jargon. No easy to google slang, because I know for a fact y’all are too lazy to ever do work you can just push onto a Black person to explain for you.

My grandfather raised me on visual media, charted years of golden era kinda love. His favourite Doctor is Tom Baker and his undying, fanboy passion is a Galifrayian typa magic he has passed onto me. I’d redo my coming out with him in simpler terms. Tell him my gender is the TARDIS because it’s bigger on the inside. My queerness is powered by a tesseract. I am expansive in all dimensions, in every time, and fluid. This a queerness and a transness that cannot, ever die. A typa queer that never has to fear death, only trust in my own regeneration promise. Of course, though, what is gayer than fearing your friends’ death? Constantly trying to find joy in the danger of navigating your life, traveling so often because home is its own transformative property, and knowing, always knowing, solidarity is a threat and your companions endanger themselves because of their proximity to you. Of course it’s easy to feel like the last of your kind in a genocide.

Still, this why every queer out there is equipped with two hearts. We don’t let our heart break no more. We cuddle double the love, double the wound, and can repurpose any household item, especially a screwdriver, into a weapon, a saviour, a map, all purpose tool.

This queerness knows every language, speaks to every wave, trusts in the universe despite knowing we could easily be Gods of it as this point, know how to hide by whatever identification people need to see to believe us, always embrace the loneliness. Even if it is the only thing to stay.

I am not new, but an ancient force, still hopeful, still surviving. I’m the motherfucking Doctor and don’t you fucking forget it. Bitch.

More information: aylaxc.sullivan (at) gmail (dot) com

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Love Poem to My Heart, by JoJo Ruby

Oh heart, you steady drum. (beats)

Under your enduring rythm

I’m becoming undone.

I go into my being,

unwinding in timing and

stops

in- between.

I lay beauty on her back

so she can float down my bloodstream.

Oh heart, you poet.

I hold my pen like an artery, like a ripchord. I listen for you through the full bellied shout of my dreams, I fill pages with words groping for what you mean when you (beats) I hold onto your sound and hope to sing myself clean.

You ceaseless jester, how we have wrestled through the labyrinth of riddles my mind has built across my knowing. How I’ve toiled on this path in darkness despite all of your glowing. How I’ve masked you in conventions to keep my truth from showing.

Oh heart, it is you I am still learning to trust, untwisting these anxious guts, I am letting these breathes open you up, and with the you as my crux, I will rise again, despite these earthquakes shaking my sheepish limbs, and ever charging, changing winds, on the days I cannot bear to wear this skin, I go in. and for the thousandth time I start over, (beats)

always coming back softer,

but somehow stronger.

(beats)

Oh heart, You teacher, you bray truth into my make up when you break me. Through aches and pangs my faults are tumbled, composed for smooth and shining fumbles, Any test I have failed you have let me retake, so I’m stitching up my sleeves for smarter heartbreaks. Threading the lessons from every mistake.

You gardener, you rake the ground my pain walks on. Planting seeds within in the deep ravine, where Ive thrown the parts I don’t want seen. and when I find myself buried, you compost my tainted memories and turn me– over, push me on to greener pastures, on to blooming fields of laughter. Every season just another chapter. Another chance to make roots around what I am after, I’m sure,No matter what chaos come, an oasis grows under my sternum. (beats)

Oh heart, you curious magic, you are the universe between palms, invoking prayers unspoken. With every every wax and wane of moon you groom my dereliction. On my most haunted nights, your light is the cloak I wear for protection. and yet so many times I’ve accepted your gifts just to neglect them.

You are a house of many naked rooms, oh heart.

but I will make a home of you yet.

I will beat old resentments off the welcome mat

in my chest, and paint the walls with expressions repressed

I will let love in, with all it’s clever tools

to unhinge the doors blocking my talents and my jewels

I will sweep every dirty corner with tender introspection

and open up the windows, to shine on my perfect imperfections

I’ll tug these cobwebbed heartstrings,

to bring in worthy things.

I will fill these halls of never enough

with blessings.

….and if I ever become jaded

for fear I’ve felt to much,

if I grow sick and lonesome

on another persons touch.

If I loose the pulse in promises

and get swept up in past review.

I will put a saddle on my grief, oh heart,

and ride it home to you.

 

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Azul, from Gender of Attraction by Chris Rivera

Azul. Maybe that’s true, but for dating? I don’t want someone in love with half of me. So if I went out and found myself a gay boy, half the time he wouldn’t want me. Or he would think I was playing dress up. And if I meet guys while looking like I did last night, they want a woman. Mitch… the guy from last night… Mitch, he probably wants a cis woman. I made him leave so he didn’t see me once the makeup started to wear off. He wanted to stay, but… he was respectful about it. God you’re right. I’m never gonna see him again. (Rosa: You might! You never know) You know, There are sometimes I wonder if I actually would transition. I wonder if I’m not genderfluid, if I’m just a woman. I wonder if I’m just scared because I’m afraid no one will ever love me again. Or… Rosa, seriously, I don’t know a single trans woman who hasn’t been in a seriously abusive relationship. These guys… I feel like there are more and more people who are okay with people being trans, and gender nonconforming, they are okay with the fact that we exist. But people are disgusted by men who love us. There are guys who will watch trans women in porn, but the few brave enough to date a trans woman are so shunned, and questioned. So many become closeted about their relationships and self-hating, and guess who it usually gets taken out on. So many more trans women than cis women are killed by their partner. In the first two months of this year, six trans women were murdered. I just… sorry, that was a really long- winded way to say it’s not easier for me. And a lot of other people have it harder than me.

Azul. This was really shitty and messed up of us…of me. And you should be mad. And the only defense I have…is just another reason we shouldn’t be together. I really like you. But I can’t trust you. And that is my fault, not yours. It feels great when we are together, but then I think about things and freak out. I worry part of you is fetishizing me and you are something of a tranny chaser, and I worry that if we really tried to seriously date that you’ll eventually want to be with a cis woman and have the whole kids-and-suburban-life thing. I worry that you don’t understand me, or that you’ll always be ashamed with me, that people will shame you and question you like they have me. But I can’t walk away from who I am, and you can walk away from me. I worry I will lose my heart to you and I’ll end up crushed. I worry that I have already started to, and that is crazy, I know I have known you for like three days and I’m acting this neurotic. And that is completely unfair drama that no one should be dating. You shouldn’t date me. I’m quite obviously a mess. And… you should just run before my mess becomes contagious.

Context: Gender of Attraction is a romantic comedy that puts the spotlight on genderqueer and trans relationships. Azul, a gender non-conforming drag performer meets straight identifying Mitch. They fall for each other, but Azul worries the relationship progressing is impossible. Azul speaks to their best friend Rosa about their fears after hooking up with Mitch. Those fears are later confessed to Mitch in the final scene of the play, after Rosa and Azul have put Mitch through an uncomfortable “test” to see if his intentions are good.

For more information on playwright go to www.theactingchrisrivera.com

on Azul’s pronouns, I will give you their own words on the matter.

“And… my personal feelings about pronouns… towards me is… if I’m obviously presenting as a woman, say “she”. If I’m obviously presenting male, use “he” unless you’re gay and being sassy. If I’m presenting somewhere in between… use whatever. They, he, she. But that’s just me.”

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My Gender Is, by William Dibble

I am coming out as transgender.
Non-binary.
It isn’t past-tense. Its present and future tense.
I am coming out now, I will be coming out tomorrow.
I will be coming out to people
Who spit the word out like an insult
To strangers asking why I’m in a skirt
To people asking why I can’t just be “normal”
What is my gender, you ask? Let me tell you

My gender isn’t
Stationary.
Nor am I confused
I feel bound neither by the societal confines of being a man nor a woman

My gender is
Whatever the hell I want.
I know what I want
And what I want is to be happy in my body and my soul and my clothes

My gender isn’t
Weewee or hoohoo
Can’t you say the damn word for genitals?
And if you can, what does that have to do with who I am?

My gender is
Non-binary.
My pronouns are they, them, their, and fuck you
Fuck you if you misgender me on purpose because you’re too caught up in your own bigotry

My gender isn’t
Silence.
Nor will I be silent.
I exist in a society that tells me I am not valid, but I am valid no matter what they say.

My gender is
Screaming.
Screaming out at a sudden crisis
A spontaneous fear that I’m not really trans, I just like cross-dressing.
A spontaneous existential crisis
That I’m not non-binary, I’m a woman and am just realizing it
A sudden fear
That I am just wanting to be seen as “cool” or fit in with a group

My gender is
Fitting in.
Not pretending or trying to fit in I’ve been there and there is hell.
My gender is
Fitting in with a group where I finally feel at home and I don’t have to pretend
That I don’t like skirts, pretty nails, and feeling a little feminine sometimes

My gender is
Fuck you.
It’s a middle finger to a toxic masculinity
One that I hid in for twenty five years, and have spent four more shedding

It’s a middle finger to patriarchy
Because what use is it if I’m not using it to oppose the very system that tells me
I don’t exist
I am not valid
I do not deserve happiness
That I should kill myself
It’s an ode to me being who I am and fuck you if you say anything otherwise

My gender is the realization that love is not finite
My gender is the realization that love is not scarce
My gender is the realization that love is for me, for you, for everybody
My gender is the realization that people deserve love, even me
My gender is the realization that it is okay to be mentally ill, and to break down at the smallest thing
My gender is my photography
My gender is marching side by side with me
My gender is hand-in-hand fighting for a better world
My gender is compassionate
My gender cares.
My gender is non-definition
My gender is non-stationary
My gender is non-binary

 

 

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Of the Dark, by Tzula Propp

I remember the dark, it was the first thing there.

You think dark is smooth, but I know better. There are shapes, textures in the dark. In time, you would see them too.

The shapes gave me a boundary, the textures taught me to feel. There were silent voices in the dark, they showed me how to be.

It was like this for a long time. And it wasn’t bad, it was just all that was, all I knew.

But I knew one thing else, that this, it wasn’t me, wasn’t all that could be. Resist the dark, I told myself. Don’t let it in! Shut it out! I belong, just not here. I can be my own light!

Silent voices in the dark pleaded back at me, “Don’t go! Please, stay here, with me.”

But the silent voices needn’t have spoke, my struggle was as hopeless as an ocean wave, fighting to leave the sea. There was no direction that led away from the dark. I swirled and stormed against the only border, my border. Like the wave, I was smashed and renewed and smashed and renewed, inescapably. During that time, I became less of my form, and more of my forming—my boundary expanded. I was my escape, my prison, my home, my storm, my struggle, my voice, my dark, me.

All throughout, I expected mocking from the dark. But the silent voices understood, they were even sympathetic. This was just how it had to be, always. No one belonged anywhere, it would be death.

And this is how it stayed. My storm petered out, and again I was of the dark. I was rejoined with the walls of my prison, the first battleground of my rebellion, enveloping me like a lead blanket. And in time, I forgot why I had tried so hard to leave…

I was comfortable in the dark, and then, my eyes fluttered open, and there was light.

——————————

Playwright: Tzula Propp

Context: This piece has three major inspirations, which are also three different interpretations of the character.

The first inspiration is Brocksandra, a canonically trans character I created for a game of Dungeons and Dragons. She came to life for me more than I meant her to, I find myself returning to her often. She is a tragic outcast from a world of shadows who, despite her bardly demeanor, is deeply incompatible with the world of light around her (she is a Drow, if that means anything to you). I imagine her performing, taking on the role of Najm, the androgynous (and in my interpretation, non-binary) goddex of curiosity. The story is of Najm’s birth from the primordial chaos and rejection of nothingness, but has been made autobiographical in Brocksandra’s telling.

The second is the question, “What is a photon before it leaves an atom?” This question is one without a unique interpretation, and here I give mine.

The last inspiration is the adolescent experience of a non-binary child in a darkly and deeply repressive society. The omnipresent struggle, internalized, is the subject. The final self-coming out happens unexpectedly, following the deepest repressive phase they’ve ever experienced, almost forgetting who they are.

Note regarding the last line: in my original conception, it evoked a sense of divinely tragic irony, somewhere between almost-hope, loss of safety, and being lost. But now I’m not so sure, and encourage individual interpretation.

Contact: Tzula Propp is a grad student at the University of Oregon, where they study quantum information theory. They can be reached at spropp (at) uoregon (dot) edu

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Call for Submissions: The Non-Binary Monologues Project goes to Denver Comic Con!

We are excited to announce that The Non-Binary Monologues Project is going to Denver Comic Con! Thanks to the generosity of Page 23, we’ll be performing in June! This performance is produced in partnership with square product theatre.

We are currently accepting submissions of Comic Con-themed monologues. Please visit our submission guidelines page for details on how to submit your piece. Whether you’re a seasoned playwright or just starting out, we’d love to read your work!

If you’re burning to share some Avengers fan fiction or always wanted to explore Rogue’s inner monologue about the other X-Men, please send us your monologues!

More details on cast, crew and the performance are coming soon.

Deadline to submit: midnight, MST, on May 1st.

Crissy, from Trans/Actions by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan

CRISSY. I feel more comfortable choreographing for the girls now. (Beat.) I went to the hardware store the other day, to get an extra set of keys made and the clerk gave them to me and said, “Here you go, sir.” (Beat.) And I corrected her and said “My pronouns are she, her and hers and I actually go by miss.” And she said “Well, good for you,” and walked away. (Beat.) I told the management of the store and they kept asking me to give them more information. And I eventually got to the point where I was done. I choose to be an advocate, but I don’t have to put myself in a position to educate others all the time. (Beat.) Just once, I would like someone to ask, you know? To go into a store and have a clerk ask “What are your pronouns?” That would be…that would be…. I feel more comfortable choreographing for the girls now. (Beat.) I went to the hardware store the other day, to get an extra set of keys made and the clerk gave them to me and said, “Here you go, sir.” (Beat.) And I corrected her and said “My pronouns are she, her and hers and I actually go by miss.” And she said “Well, good for you,” and walked away. (Beat.) I told the management of the store and they kept asking me to give them more information. And I eventually got to the point where I was done. I choose to be an advocate, but I don’t have to put myself in a position to educate others all the time. (Beat.) Just once, I would like someone to ask, you know? To go into a store and have a clerk ask “What are your pronouns?” That would be…that would be….

(There are no words. The Song of the Roasted Swan from Carmina Burana starts to play. CRISSY begins to dance.) 

Playwrights: K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan

Context: This monologue happens in the last scene of the play. Crissy, a ballet dancer, is reflecting on the ways in which she moves through the world.

Website: www.woodzick.com

Contact: nonbinarymonologues (at) gmail (dot) com

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