The Exhale Identity Series is a yearly, student-centered zine published by the Gender & Sexuality Center. Through Exhale, we call on all Carleton community members to engage in a campus-wide storytelling experience around identity. Exhale’s theme varies every year. Using a single topic as a means to connect our stories, our community can see and better appreciate the diverse ways each person moves through their Carleton experience.
Exhale aims to engage the larger Carleton community—not just folks who identify as LGBTQIA+. We welcome all backgrounds, mediums, and levels of experience. Staff and faculty members are encouraged to contribute their work, as well.
See the tabs below to learn about the creation of Exhale Identity Series, our hopes for the program, and ways to get involved year after year!
Submissions for Exhale have closed and will reopen in December 2023.
How does it work?
The Exhale Identity Series is a two-part program inviting folks to share their experiences, stories, and artwork around a specific theme. The theme changes annually so that Exhale can continue to grow alongside and be most relevant to Carleton community members. The program’s two parts include a publication and a showcase.
Publication: Through a zine-like creation, we invite community members to submit a self-authored piece of work that connects back to the theme. Pieces can include short stories, poetry, photography, doodles, videos, and photos of art such as ceramics, prints, etc. The publication is published both digitally and in print.
Showcase: After publication, the GSC hosts a community showcase. Members of the community are welcome to share their own work or simply enjoy others’ contributions. This final portion of Exhale is meant to symbolize a true sense of community around a shared topic. Performances in the past have included dance, vocals, photography, spoken or written word, and personal reflections on one’s work.
Can I share my work anonymously?
Community members are welcome to submit their work anonymously if that feels more comfortable. They may indicate this decision on the submission form. While we do require each participant to share their email for follow-up purposes, their contact information will remain confidential to GSC Professional Staff.
If I submit, do I have to attend the showcase?
While we encourage all creators to be present so they can speak to their work and use the event as a time to connect, we understand this might not feel comfortable for everyone. Let us know if you prefer to have your work of art displayed without your attendance.
Why the name “Exhale”?
The name Exhale represents the amount of bravery it takes to lead with vulnerability and allow yourself space and time to sit with your own experiences. It can be scary to share your internal experiences of the world with someone else, but at the end comes a big sigh of relief: an exhale.
Exhale is also an acrostic created by 2019-2020 GSC staff members:
Exemplify Vulnerability: Opting in to submit a moment of self-discovery and share stories tied into your identity requires vulnerability.
Having a Conversation: Engaging in dialogue with others about personal topics takes courage to walk through the door, sit down, listen, and share.
Let Go and Let Grow: Coming together as a community to share these experiences with peers demonstrates a commitment to community healing and growth.
What about Stripped?
In prior years, the GSC hosted Stripped, a program that engaged the campus in meaningful conversation and brought visibility to a multitude of experiences around body image, consent, sexuality, etc. Stripped was created as part of Kava George’s ’16 senior comps and used in place of the Vagina Monologues. Stripped was student-curated and performed, which made way for a heavily student-organized production.
After assessing participation over the past four years, we noticed a decrease in student engagement. New content was also not being developed, which created repetition and may have contributed to the lack of overall involvement.
Our staff examined the intricacies of Stripped in hopes of creating something just as meaningful, yet more versatile that could grow with each new class year. This process consisted of extracting important themes, messages, topics, and identities which served as foundations of the Stripped production. We also thought about key features of this type of program which are especially appealing to students—self-authored, creative, nuanced, communal. Lastly, we made a list of the barriers this program faced and may continue to face.
We wanted to maintain the beloved self-authored, student-led format in order to make space for students to be creative and raw in sharing narratives. We wanted to coordinate a program which brought visibility, voice, and a sense of relatability to the nuanced experiences existing within the Carleton community specifically around identity. In an effort to address some of the barriers, we thought of ways to engage students which could adapt annually along with the composition of those attending Carleton in a given academic year. We also wanted to create a format that allowed students to participate comfortably to ensure more students were interacting with this very important content. From this extensive brainstorm came Exhale.
Will there still be a fundraising component?
At this time, we do not anticipate including a fundraising component to Exhale. Once we gauge student involvement and begin planning for the next theme, there may be opportunities to include local organizations.