There is no one bolder than Boulder resident, LGBTQ and mental health advocate, social and political activist, artist, and slam poet Andrea Gibson, who performed at CU’s Glenn Miller Ballroom on November 5th at 7pm. Gibson is nothing short of a warrior, and this homcoming stop on this tour was a gift to every listener in the audience. Embodying the strongest, bravest, and most courageous hearts that inhabit this city, Gibson left few with dry eyes by the end of the set, but left everyone with an opportunity to share free hugs afterwards.

Gibson writes what people cannot say and stands as the idol, icon, and epitome of fiesty when it comes to shedding light on the darkest corners of human lives. Covering topics ranging from self-worth, illness, gender identity, white privilege, race, politics, equality, and specific, relevant current events, Gibson gets it; hitting every heart’s hurt and creates a sense of home with it. The tattooed exterior and sense of humor entangle with Gibson’s gentility and desire to connect with everyone on an extremely human level in the most stunning way. Gibson welcomes the audience with disclaimers of limited trigger warnings, but encourages self-discretion and self-care, reminding us all by saying, “Just so you know, you get to leave this room whenever you want to. Whatever you have to do to take care of yourself, I don’t care if you’re sitting in the front row and it’s in the middle of the poem.” When it comes to what’s expected of well-known authors or artists, Gibson crushes every stereotypical form of “fame etiquette10914746_10152814816609272_4328392776492446292_o” and artist-audience interaction in order to remind us that Gibson is just one of us…and how lucky are we to have Gibson on our team.

In the middle of the set, Gibson recognizes the qualities of Boulder that make us all question whether “there’s anything like it in
the whole world” (Gibson). Gibson makes sure to thank the audience for our presence, knowing that whoever chose to witness the set that night is of a similar belief system. Gibson says, “Thank God y’all are here because there’s so much that needs to change in this city- I have a feeling there are a lot of hearts here who are making that kind of difference, so thank you.” Gibson’s goal is to create a healthy dialogue about unhealthy situations; the question of the night that left the room buzzing was and continues to be, “Who are my people?” What will it take for things to change, and how can I begin…now?

Gibson mentions an idol’s influence, pushing our every day presence and our world’s work to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” and speaks thematically about the warriorship it requires to continue showing up in this world. Referring to one of the poems, she calls us “Angels of the get-through,” all of us. Anyone who sat in a chair November 5th at 7pm to hear Gibson speak, understood. There was a collective sharing of soft hearts and understanding of the struggle that is life. We are there to feel, to show up again and again after the difficulties of life that have kept us hiding and hurting and in desperate need of help, and Gibson, leader of our vulnerability, was there to validate our experience. Gibson IS the mind-body connection; using words as the vehicle to connect every listener to their bodies through the use of the mind. Gibson’s mind connects with our bodies as we feel what is said, and it is an energetic magnetism that only a true artist could put to words, that every individual should make a point to feel.

Andrea Gibson is as real as they come. Andrea Gibson helps people move forward when we feel we cannot, or don’t know how, or refuse. Andrea Gibson moves mass crowds daily, saving lives daily, giving voice to those who don’t have one, creating art that we need to see. Andrea Gibson pushes every limit and boundary in every which way; using craft for the betterment of society, to keep the buzz electrifying and electrocuting people who need to begin the conversation. Andrea Gibson is active, awake, alive. Andrea Gibson acknowledges personal flaws and knows that Boulder is flawed but also that anyone’s greatest strength is to accept that we are all, all of it. Andrea Gibson is here to help us heal together. Andrea Gibson is Boulder’s hero, everything a poet strives to be and everything familiar a soul seeks. Andrea Gibson, “Angel of the get-through,” I can only attempt to reciprocate the impact by writing about the work that’s being done. Thank goodness for Andrea Gibson. Thank goodness for Boulder. It’s time for us to follow what’s right, so we can also learn then, to lead.