BGALA sponsors 'Coming Out' event on UA Mall

By Shannon Davis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Come out, come out, wherever you are. That's the message for bisexuals, gays and lesbians on National Coming Out Day.

ASUA's Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association is sponsoring activities designed to provide support for the bisexual, gay and lesbian community on campus and education for the larger UA community, and is encouraging students to get involved.

"Awareness is key," said Samantha Christy, Director of ASUA's Women's Resource Center. "It helps people to understand that people who are gay need to have visibility so that they are not marginalized. It makes people aware that gay people are normal and many carry on like everybody else."

BGALA will have a multicolored door set up on the Mall for those who choose to symbolically "come out of the closet."

"We try to make it fun and have a good time," said Shawn Adams, anthropology junior and co-director of BGALA.

Seeing other gays and lesbians come out is inspiring, Adams said. "That's the most powerful thing you can do. When somebody realizes that they know someone gay, I think that does a whole hell of a lot more to change attitudes than any educational thing they could go to or television special they could watch."

"Whenever you want to change attitudes, you have to shoot beyond the mark," said Mike Harter, finance senior. "That's why walking through the door is important. Attitudes are changed by knowing people," he said.

Gay and lesbian students not only face the same challenges of growth and adjustment that other students do, but also may have to work a bit harder at it.

"Being gay is a daily issue for gay and lesbian students," said Dean of Students Melissa Vito. "They constantly are faced with what kind of impact their sexual preference will have on their academic and social life."

"Professors have control over your grades," Harter said. "I think that being gay or lesbian could negatively affect a student's situation."

In addition to the door, local gay, lesbian and bisexual groups will have booths set up on the Mall today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, BGALA will host its Fifth Annual Coming Out Day Ball in the Student Union Arizona Ballroom.

For more information call 621-7585.

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