By Page Forrest
With the words “Pan[sexual] and proud” written on her back, one sophomore came out to her friends through Snapchat. “It’s the most passive way I can think of doing it,” she said. She had been trying to figure out when to come out for some time, and decided National Coming Out Day was probably a decent opportunity.
Created in 1988, National Coming Out Day is celebrated on October 11, as an annual recognition of those in the LGBTQA+ community. People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, or asexual, or non-binary sexuality, have the opportunity to come out to the community if they have not already done so, or if they have, to celebrate their sexuality publically.
This year, the Spectrum, the Gender and Sexual Diversity House, the Women’s Center, and the Cornerstone Initiative collaborated to celebrate National Coming Out Week at Sewanee. The events kicked off on October 8, and the week included a panel on breaking down stereotypes, a performance from transgender comedian Ian Harvie, an LGBT-BBQ, and culminated with a Rainbow Rave on National Coming Out Day.
According to Kathryn Willgus (C’16), co-president of Spectrum, “The week went better than I anticipated. The events were well-attended and not just by the folks who are regularly involved with Spectrum.” However, there’s still a lot more to National Coming Out Day that Willgus wished she had been able to emphasize. “Looking back on it, I wish I could have done more in recognizing that coming out is extremely difficult and talking about the reasons that some people choose to wait longer than others, or some that don’t want to come out at all. Coming out is hard and not every person is going to necessarily want or need a national holiday to enable them to come out. But even if just one person feels empowered and supported by our solidarity and celebration of the coming out experience – that’s why we do what we do.”