Gender and Sexuality Alliance extends national holiday “Coming Out Day” for an entire week in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community.
In the words of Triston King, a sophomore in communications, Coming Out Week is a celebration for those who are LGBTQ; for those coming out and saying, “This is me, and I don’t want to be anyone else.” It is a week that is devoted to being a support to those who are in the transition of coming out since this is not always the easiest thing to do.
“The biggest challenge is usually always telling your family. Well, for me and a lot of other people, we tell our friends first and then we have to work up the courage to tell our families,” said Jacob Vandegeolde, a senior majoring in Spanish, international studies, political science and this year’s GSA president.
GSA has faced some challenges during coming out week. Vandegeold mentions GSA wants to let people in the closet know that it is okay to be LGBTQ, but they might be so far in the closet that they never get a chance to hear this message.
On the flip side, the rewarding part is when this message is heard and GSA becomes a resource for this diversity group.
GSA has joined with other UW campuses to extend “Coming Out Day”, historically celebrated on October 11, to an entire week.
Whether or not Coming Out Week is a diversity issue and if the LGBTQ community is among the diverse population on campus has been the topic of some debate.
“I feel like at an institutional level there are still a lot of things some people don’t see as being an issue, but we see it every day as something that needs to be addressed,” Vandegeold said.
One of these prominent issues has been the instillation of gender-neutral bathrooms.
“The needs of our students who are transgendered are not being met. We don’t have gender neutral halls and enough accessible gender neutral bathrooms on campus for our students,” said Allie Schjoth, a junior sociology major and the administrative and institutional support director for GSA.
Schjoth also mentioned she thinks every diversity group feels like they are being ignored in some way, but that’s a part of being a diversity group.
“Ten years from now, laws will be absolutely created in favor of the LGBTQ community. The closet door has been opened and destroyed,” King said.
Coming Out Week is to raise awareness and support for students and individuals who may not be comfortable “coming out” to friends or family, to remind them they are not alone.