In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, Gay read excerpts from her book Hunger — A Memoir of (My) Body at the Northridge Center in California State University, Northridge’s University Student Union (USU). Gay’s Hunger deals with being overweight and judged on her body appearance, chronicling Gay’s own struggles with accepting her body.
“I wanted to tell the story of my body in my own words, instead of having people judge me,” Gay said. “This was one of the most difficult writing experiences of my life.”
Gay shared with the audience that she was assaulted at the age of 12 and in the aftermath, she started eating and gaining weight. She is still suffering from the traumatic experience today, Gay said, and she recounted how she tracked down the perpetrators as part of the healing process.
“She is so open about her past and a very inspiring person,” said Jennifer Marin, a freshman and child development major who attended the event.
Actress and poet Yazmin Monet Watkins kicked off the event with her poem Dear Straight People, which dealt with sexuality and race. Watkins first performed the piece at the 2016 Bi Visibility Day at the White House.
“With Roxane’s audience, I specifically wanted to share a poem that acknowledges both of us being bisexual black women,” Watkins said. Opening the event was a great honor for her, as she deeply respects and admires Gay, Watkins added.
The event was organized by the Women’s Research and Resource Center, in collaboration with the USU. Co-sponsors included the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, College of Humanities, CSUN’s feminist student group The F Word, Department of Communication Studies and Department of Queer Studies.
Khanum Shaikh, assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, said she admired Gay’s “honesty, humor, sharp analytical eye and her ability to engage a wide range of topics with clarity.”
Gay is also known for co-authoring the renowned Marvel comic series Black Panther — World of Wakanda. She engaged in a discussion with the audience, and advised aspiring writers to believe in their writing skills and to read a lot. She also encouraged students to treat people with empathy instead of judgment.
“Everybody has a personal story, and it is important to consider that,” she said.
To learn more about Roxane Gay, visit http://www.roxanegay.com