'Coming out' celebrates pride, identity

By Amy C. Schweigert
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 14, 1996

Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Daily Wildcat

After talks by Associated Students President Rhonda Wilson and the directors of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association, a long line of people walked through a rainbow-colored door to support National Coming Out Day on the UA Mall.


Walking through a rainbow-colored door on the UA Mall, about 40 people expressed support for National Coming Out Day Friday afternoon.

"This is for everybody," said Hattie Sabia, co-director of the UA's Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association, to people sitting and milling around the Mall.

Friday was National Coming Out Day. "Coming out" refers to homosexuals openly announcing their sexuality to those around them.

Associated Student's President Rhonda Wilson showed support for the day by speaking at the awareness event.

"Today is a celebration of pride," Wilson said.

Dave Stoutenberg, BGALA's co-director, said homosexuality is not a fad.

"We are from all walks of life and all corners of the globe," he said.

Stoutenberg said people should not be afraid of homosexuals or condemn them.

Sabia said the door represents the closet that homosexuals are locked in when they hide their sexuality.

"It's the fear (of being condemned) that keeps us behind that door," she said.

The colors on the door symbolize diversity within the homosexual community, Sabia said.

People need to recognize that anyone can be homosexual regardless of race or gender, she said.

"We are the people sitting next to you in class," Stoutenberg said.

Miranda Joseph, coordinator of the UA's three-year-old Committee on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Studies, told everyone gathered on the Mall that coming out is a "great first step."

"Coming out is not the end of the political road," Joseph said." If you want to make changes, you have to go beyond coming out."

Social change is about politics, she said.

As a part of the festivities, The Gay Young Men's program, along with BGALA and six other Tucson and UA organizations, were on the Mall trying to increase the public's awareness of sexuality and AIDS.

The organizations were answering questions and handing out condoms and information pamphlets.

Arthur Padilla, the program's coordinator, said a lot of community support exists for sexuality issues.

"(It's) good to see a lot of organizations that support people coming out," Padilla said.

Speakers at Friday's event criticized some religious groups for not communicating with them.

Mary Taylor, a senior majoring in English literature who said she was celebrating her first National Coming Out Day Friday, told the crowd she is a lesbian and a Christian.

Taylor spoke about the union of the two lifestyles and urged the crowd to do three things: "get to know a person as a person above all; know why you believe what you do; be respectful and kind."