Gay group gathers on Mall today

By Danielle Rideau
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 10, 2005

In celebration of National Coming Out Day student organizations are hosting a week of events to promote tolerance and educate the community about resources for gay students.

Students can attend the events to learn about the resources provided for students in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

The Associated Students of University of Arizona's Pride Alliance, Students Promoting Respect for Individuality Through Example and the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity are organizing a week of events in celebration of National Coming Out Day tomorrow.

National Coming Out Day is an opportunity for people in the LGBTQ community to "come out" to their friends, family and co-workers as well as a chance to disprove stereotypes, said Pride Alliance Co-Director Maudree Callahan.

Today to Thursday the sponsors have planned day and evening events for students to come and celebrate Coming Out Week, meet other members of the community, and learn what resources are available to them provided by ASUA and the Tucson LGBTQ community, said Callahan, a religious studies sophomore.

Some events scheduled include what organizers call queer football with teams of boys vs. girls "or whichever gender you identify with," a "coming out of the closet" event where Pride Alliance will have a closet on the UA Mall for students to walk out of symbolizing "coming out to the world," as well as discussion panels with representatives from the Tucson LGBTQ community, said Pride Alliance Co-Director Garrett Bennett.

The Pride Alliance, which is more of a resource center than a club, has a mission to provide an opportunity for students to meet people with similar interests and have a community that supports who they are, Callahan said.

"Instead of focusing on the differences we want people to think about the other things the minorities have in common with everyone else," Callahan said. "(Our) sexuality is a small fraction of who (we are). (We) don't want people to discriminate against us because of what we do in the privacy of our own homes."

Bennett and Callahan said another important aspect of getting respect for their community is having alliances with other groups that are in the majority, like heterosexuals.

"The LGBTQ community is a minority. It's important for us to build coalitions with other groups," Callahan said. "We all have something in common even if we have different sexuality."

The gay fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi, is taking advantage of this week's celebration to let students know about their new colony at the UA and recruit new members, said fraternity Vice President Dan Churgin.

Delta Lambda Phi will hold a volleyball tournament Wednesday night as part of the week's celebration and participate in all of the other events, Churgin said.