Each time slam poetry performer Kit Yan used the phrase, “Something is broken” on Monday night, the mantra boomed from the speaker like a cry of pain while he explored the different types of heartbreak he has encountered.
Cal State Fullerton’s Association for Inter-Cultural Awareness invited Yan to CSUF as the kick off performance for its three-day event, Culture Week.
Yan performed at the Underground Pub in the Titan Student Union where he read a few of the poems he had written for his book, “Queer Heartache” and spoke about his experience as a queer, transgender, Asian-American growing up in Hawaii.
“I strung (the poems) together to create this show to go on a journey, like a character does, of discovering identity and to grapple with the issues of being queer,” Yan said.
Beginning with his childhood in Hawaii, Yan spoke of financial struggles his family endured. He opened with a memory of his mother: though she was willing to make the sacrifice to get him braces, Yan declined the offer because he knew his family could not afford to fix his crooked teeth.
Because his family did not believe in wasting anything, everything was given a new purpose, like an old peanut butter jar acting as a thermos or Tupperware container. Yan said he still reuses empty containers as a way to remember the love his parents gave him.
While other families sought financial aid from the government, Yan said agencies that were supposed to help his family did little to support them.
After a brief summary of his childhood, he reflected on his self-discovery as a queer-transgender male. Excited to express himself when he first moved to Boston, he covered his Jeep in stickers to display all of his interests.
When talking about his first sexual experiences with men, Yan said that after experiencing heartbreak, he tried to give up on being queer. However, he realized being straight would not heal the pain caused by the heartbreak he was feeling.
He said his story is not only about his personal heartache and growth, but a way to inspire others to explore their own identity.
“I hope that people come away from watching the show feeling like they also have stories to tell,” Yan said. “There’s a colorful story within all of us.”