Being comfortable in your own skin is inevitably a personal journey, often filled with hard questions and more than a little strife.

Center Stage, the College’s student-run theater production organization, will shed light on the hard fought victories of self-acceptance with a performance of Keep It Gay 2.0, under the artistic direction of student Caroline Connell. The fundraising cabaret will benefit We Are Family, an organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersexed (LGBTQQI) youth.

Student performers rehearse a number from the musical “Kinky Boots.”

“We want to bring our community together through popular show tunes – from Kinky Boots to The Color Purple – and we want to celebrate these stories of love, perseverance and self-acceptance in the LGBTQ community,” says Center Stage president and theater major Julia Marks.

Funds from the event will go toward helping We Are Family open a new drop-in center and a safe space for youth experiencing homelessness. The nonprofit organization, which is headed by executive director and CofC alum Melissa Moore ’04, has partnered with the College on several events and programs in recent years, including a 2013 visit from transgender actress Laverne Cox and a 2015 event featuring Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the national Black Lives Matter movement.

“Both of those events were truly inspiring and transformative, not only because of the noteworthy keynote speakers, but because of the youth who shared the stage with them,” says Moore. “Many of the young leaders in our group are College of Charleston students.”

Inspired by Center Stage’s first Keep It Gay cabaret last summer, which raised funds for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, We Are Family board chair Topher Larkin approached the student theater group about hosting a benefit cabaret for the local LGBTQ community.

Larkin says the show explores themes of gender expression, love and family. He adds: “There are so many great songs in the Broadway songbook that fit around those themes so it will be a wonderful display. In the end, there is always a need to be loved and accepted, and there is always the hope of creating a world of tolerance and love.”

Keep It Gay 2.0 will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Tickets start at $10. For additional event information or to purchase tickets visit the We Are Family website.