Pacific University has chosen to celebrate National Coming Out Week with a whole week of games, speakers and interactive activities. The week is meant to raise awareness about the societal challenges and pressures that can be placed upon gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender student’s here at Pacific and around the world.
National Coming Out Week is not unique to Pacific; multiple colleges, churches and local/national LGBTQ organizations all over the nation celebrate it. The holiday began on Oct. 11, 1987 when 500,000 people marched in Washington D.C. for gay and lesbian rights. To this day, National Coming Out Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the march.
Co-President of the Rainbow Coalition Katie Linabury said the importance and goals of Coming Out Week is to “increase awareness on campus of issues pertaining to LGBTQ individuals and their allies. Through various events, the goal of National Coming Out Week is to demonstrate Pacific’s acceptance towards all individuals.”
Another organization that fully supports the celebration of National Coming Out Day is the Social Work Club. Jessica Ritter, the social work club’s program director, echoed Linabury’s thoughts about the importance and awareness that Coming Out Week brings “the social work profession supports equal rights for LGBTQ individuals and antidiscrimination legislation. Thus, the Social Work Club supports events like National Coming Out Week since we want Pacific University to be a safe place for LBGTQ students and to encourage dialogue on campus about issues facing LGBTQ students.”
Aside from the Rainbow Coalition and Social Work Club, The Center for Gender Equality, ACE Board, English Club, Oregonians against the Trafficking of Humans, Gender and Sexuality Studies and CASSS all play a major role in supporting and funding Pacific’s Coming Out Week. Each group is involved and sponsors different activities in Coming Out Week.
On Thursday Oct. 13, guest Erika Moen will be speaking in Taylor Auditorium about her coming out story and how her personal experiences molded her drastically throughout college and life shortly after college.
The following evening, Pacific’s Rainbow Coalition, Ace Board and OATH will sponsor the annual Open Mic Night. Artists who participate are encouraged to follow the theme of coming out in honor of the week’s festivities; although artists can come out as whomever they are.
While Coming Out Week is geared toward LGBTQ individuals, it is still encouraged that non-LGBTQ individuals still attend in order to gain knowledge and awareness about coming out. “[Even if you] don’t identify as LGBTQ, we want the campus to know that we are accepting of anyone and everyone, no matter who they are!” said Linabury.
Coming Out Week and Coming Out Day have a national reputation for spreading civil awareness on coming out and what it means to be LGBTQ. So, no matter if your gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer or not, students are encouraged to check out this week’s special events in celebration of National Coming Out Day.