By John Wunker and Scarlet Cloud/reporters
Students celebrated diversity and acceptance on TR and SE Campuses to mark National Coming Out Day Oct. 11.
“National Coming Out Day gives a chance for people to have vocabulary for what it is they’re trying to understand about themselves as well as a community support of love and encouragement,” SE speech and drama instructor Jill James said.
The day is an opportunity for everyone to share who they are with the people in their lives who want to understand them better, and for those to be understood whether that’s what some consider normal, expected, average or something more interesting and compelling and unique, James said.
Products of the Trinity River Equality in Education LGBTQ student organization and SE’s Gay-Straight Alliance, attendees took part in the events, which encouraged people to be open about their sexual and gender identity.
SE student and president of the Gay-Straight Alliance Robert Pitcock said people will know when it’s the right time to come out, and when they do, it is a huge weight off of their shoulders. But there is no one way to do this.
“You don’t necessarily have to come out if you’re more comfortable just keeping it to yourself and not telling anybody, that’s fine too,” Pitcock said.
TREE organizers, led by student development associate Cortney Walden, presented students information and answered any questions.
“I am so excited about the support that we’ve gotten not just from the students but from the faculty and staff who can come by the event,” said Edward Hicks, SE Campus facilitator for the Safe Space program. “They’re so excited to see us here and celebrate National Coming Out Day, and we’re hoping that we get to do this every year.”
And it is difficult for students to focus on their studies if they feel like an outsider, which is why Hicks said he hopes to make students feel safe if they did make the decision to come out.
Arriving before the organizers were ready, TR student Nick Collins said he was happy with the availability of these kinds of events on campus.
“They are staying on top of it,” Collins said.
TR student Valdemar Rodriguez said he was happy that National Coming Out Day was recognized at TCC.
“I’m not part of the community, but I’m really supportive,” Rodriguez said.
TR student Erica Hubbard said she enjoyed the level of acceptance and positive atmosphere at the event.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Hubbard said. “It’s important for LGBTQ youth to feel like they don’t have to hide, and it’s OK to be who they are.”
Student development coordinator Angelica Cuellar, who helped with the event, said organizers were open to any student who had questions in reference to LGBTQ issues.
“We just want to bring more awareness and inclusivity to our campus,” Cuellar said.