Health Magazine

Your Voice Matters

By Melissa Boles @_mboles

On Saturday night, my friend Megan and I went into Portland to see a play.  Written and adapted for the stage by WSU Vancouver professor Desiree Hellegers, “No Room Of Her Own” is a collection of stories from women who have experienced “homelessness, life, death, and resistance.”

Saturday was only the second live reading of the play.  The actresses were dressed in all black and reading from their scripts, and the audience was seated in uncomfortable church pews.

Please don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that it was one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen.

I have never experienced homelessness.  Even when my parents were dealing with lost jobs and tight budgets, I always had a roof over my head and food on the table.

I am very lucky, and so grateful.

The women whose stories we heard seemed to have been through everything.  Abuse, unemployment, rape, assault – it felt like if you could come up with something terrible, one of the women had been there.  And so often it wasn’t one of those terrible experiences that caused their homelessness.

Every one of us is one illness or lost job or unexpected major expense away from facing homelessness.  And those of us who know we have nets to catch us are some of the luckiest people around.

The thing I was most reminded of last night was that our voices are the most powerful thing that we have.  And some of us have a space to share those stories, but others don’t.  So people who have the space have to give it to those that don’t have such easy access.

I am a firm believer in the ability of stories to change the world.  But they need to be given the space they deserve.

“No Room Of Her Own” is just the beginning of that space for women who have experienced homelessness.  There were only two readings, but I hope it will become the long-running play it deserves to be.  Those stories should be told.

We can end homelessness and discrimination and every other problem our society seems to be having, but we have to start by talking about it.

This isn’t just an opportunity for me to tell you about how amazing this play was, it is also an all-call.  Your voice matters, and if you have something that needs to be said, this space can be yours.  No catch, no strings.  If you’ve been through something or you have an experience you need to share, it’s important that you share it.  If you have to talk about student loans, college, racism, religion, sexism, homophobia, abuse, assault, whatever it is, this can be your space.

If you have a story to tell, email me at [email protected]  This space is yours for the taking.

If you’re interested in learning more about Desiree Hellegers’ book, you can find out more HERE.

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