On Wednesday, Oct. 9, allies and fellow LGTBQ+ students gathered in the Honors Center for a celebration of coming out, including a panel to help those who are questioning or in need of support.
The event was sponsored by the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC), the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion and the Honors Center.
Although National Coming Out Day was officially celebrated on Friday, Oct. 11, the event was held on Wednesday to prevent interfering with fall break.
“Coming out can be a very complex process,” said Emma Morcone, Title IX Coordinator and LGBTQ+ Coordinator. “It can be very beautiful, and affirming, but it can also be a really scary experience for some folks.”
The history of Coming Out Day dates back to 1987, when half a million people participated in the “March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.” Since then, Oct. 11 has been a monumental day for those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community.
The four panelists included Javay Fraser, Princess Rodriguez, Kevin Martinez and Jade Chloe, along with moderator Lauren Spencer, the sole LGBTQ+ Liaison and Counselor at the PCC. Questions ranged from personal coming out experiences to what was the most and least helpful advice when explaining sexual preferences.
Rodriguez reflected on her personal experience coming out to her friends, and she said that “cracking jokes” with them made her feel comforted after she told them she was a lesbian.
“To some people it could have been a downer [to have your friends question your sexuality], because you think you are hiding it so well, but for me that was a positive thing,” Rodriguez said. “Because they were just chilling, waiting for me [to tell them].”
Although much has been done to make the world (and our campus) a safe and welcoming environment for any gender expression, identity and/or sexuality, there are still many strides to make before people feel completely safe.
Just last week, the Supreme Court started deliberation on cases that questioned whether the Civil Rights Act covered those who identify as transgender.
Additionally, employers in 28 states are still legally able to fire employees solely because of their sexuality.
“It’s important to come out when you feel comfortable around the right people, but at the same time it’s also important to not come out to certain people if they aren’t someone you feel comfortable around,” Fraser said when asked about situations where they felt they couldn’t come out.
Other questions for the panelists included what in their coming out experience was the most difficult, and resources they felt were helpful during this transition period.
“I think it is important to acknowledge that people in the LGBTQ+ community don’t come out just once, but [they] have to come out every day; every time that someone needs correcting because they are using the wrong pronouns or the wrong name they have to come out,” Morcone said.
For more information contact Morcone, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 845-257-3184.