I'm glad that I came out years ago, because I think I would have been disappointed if I had waited for the Coming Out Day event activities planned on the UA Mall on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
Coming Out Day is now nationally recognized by our brothers and sisters of the same-sex orientation. It is a symbol, more than anything, of the acceptance and quantity of supporters that those who are still closeted may expect to have on that day. That type of support group wasn't so apparent to me this year when I went out to join the activities on the Mall.
What I saw was a "clique" of young gays huddled en masse dancing or trying to talk over the loud music. I saw tables facing inward in a horseshoe shape Ÿ half were without any person, therefore without any personal touch. I saw condoms on those tables baking in the sun for a couple of hours. I saw the same makeshift closet door standing alone except for the occasional pass by those who were already obviously "out." I saw people curious about the event skirt the outside perimeters of the tables and clusters of gays.
Maybe I was looking for something else. I wanted to see people handing out those condoms and pamphlets on where to go if you think you're gay, help lines and local support groups. I wanted to see people talking at a podium about their experiences of coming out or where people could go if they were needing to talk to someone about being gay. I wanted to see more than the symbol of the closet door Ÿ I wanted to see a gay family out there ready to give support to whoever needed it. If I didn't see it, I'm sure no closeted freshman saw it out there.
I believe in the event and what the day means. We all know the college years are the last chance for most to see that there are support groups out there for bisexuals, gays and lesbians. If they don't see something appealing about our culture from what we portray while we have our spotlight, then what's to convince them not to stay closeted for the rest of their lives?
What did I do to help? I handed out a couple of condom info packets. I handed out buttons earlier on in the day to my straight friends that said "Straight but not narrow." I wore a "Read My Lips" T-shirt. I volunteer. I'm not a stranger to what it takes to put an event together. I know it takes a lot of work. But again, it is our only time in the spotlight. We should try to make it count.
MIS Graduate Student
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