LGBT Center celebrates National Coming Out Day

Junior+social+work+major+Alison+Rocheleau+and+freshman+physics+major+Nicholas+Phillips+run+the+LGBT+Centers+booth+Tuesday+in+Plemmons+Student+Union.Courtney+Roskos+%7C+The+Appalachian

Michael Bragg

Junior social work major Alison Rocheleau and freshman physics major Nicholas Phillips run the LGBT Center's booth Tuesday in Plemmons Student Union.Courtney Roskos | The AppalachianTuesday marked the 30th annual National Coming Out Day.

“A lot of our other events are more focused on issues or problems in the community, and this day is more of ‘you’re out, you’re gay, you’re LGBTQ and that’s awesome, let’s celebrate that.'” said Zach Herman, senior interdisciplinary studies major and co-coordinator for the event.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the booth in Plemmons Student Union featured buttons, face painting, key chains and other merchandise as well as large-scale posters signed with words of encouragement.

The poster itself will be framed and put on display in the LGBT center.

“Coming Out Day here is helping me accept myself,” said Ellis Conway, junior hospitality and tourism management student and member of the LGBT community. “Having this place is really meaningful. I was in a really low place before I came here. I had lost a lot of friends. Having a day where you can
shout it without being obnoxious is really helpful.”

Senior math major Lindsey Varner said she sees the day as a time to be confident.

“I feel like we’re under the radar most days,” Varner said.

But the day isn’t only focused on pride — it focuses on education too.

Mark Rasdorf, graduate assistant for the LGBT Center, said in past years the events for the day ignored this aspect. This year, they hope to reach more people more effectively by offering otherwise hard to come by information alongside the celebrations.

“We have literature about coming out for people in any situation, literature in Spanish, literature specifically about being transgender and even brochures about different places of worship,” Rasdorf said.

Amber Harnden, senior psychology major and co-coordinator of the event, coordinated a photo shoot for those who come out as LGBT or allies and have their photo taken with the LGBT Center rainbow wall, holding signs with a positive message of their choosing.

“We’ve had people write some really inspirational things,” Harnden said.

The photos will be sent to participants following the event for use on Facebook profiles as an act of continued support, Harnden said.

The LGBT Center hoped to build off of the success of the recent “Gay? Fine by me” photo shoots not only in helping to create more visibility for National Coming Out Day, but also to spread the message that coming out day extends to allies.

“We want to increase awareness of the LGBT center, the LGBT community and we want the public to know that allies are welcome in the fight for civil rights in our community,” Rasdorf said.

At 6:30 p.m. in Whitewater Cafe, there was a panel of students to share their coming out stories followed by a question and answer session. From 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., celebrations continued in honor of Appalachian’s LGBT Center’s fourth birthday.

 

Story: LOVEY COOPER, A&E Reporter

 Photo: COURTNEY ROSKOS, Staff Photographer