This week, October 10-15 is National Coming Out Week, and October 11th is National Coming Out Day. As one of the Top 30 LGBTQ-inclusive institutions of higher education, Montclair State University celebrates this week with pride.
We all know that college students love free shirts and this week is no exception. In the past the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Center has been known for its LIKES T-shirt campaign. This idea came from Glee, where students write what or who they like in the blank. However, this year was a little different. Instead of LIKES being printed on the shirts, they say “This is What _____ Looks Like.” Some examples given for filling in the blank are any and all sexual and gender identities, but this event is open to all students. Other identities could be feminist, student, a student’s major, or any adjective. The cool thing about this is that there is no right or wrong answer. Students are free to put whatever they like in the blank, but it is really held to help students come out.
Coming out is the process of recognizing, accepting, and sharing with others one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It can also refer to the time when a person comes out to themselves. Coming out is an everyday process for queer people, in that they often have to decide whether is it safe to disclose their identity or not. There are a lot of stereotypes that come with different gender identities and sexual orientations that often make coming out almost inevitable.
Coming out experiences vary from person to person. Some are positive, where individuals are embraced and accepted, maybe by everyone or a majority of those in their lives. However, there are also negative experiences, where individuals may be rejected by friends and family, or even fired from their jobs. I talked to a few students to hear what they had to say about coming out and the week here at MSU.
Jackie, sophomore Communication and Media Arts major explained the difficulties that are associated and often not talked about regarding the coming out process. She says: “It is especially hard for people to come out when they identify as something outside of the given binary of sexual orientations and gender identities.”
In one word Ryan, sophomore Animation major describes coming out as “liberating.”
Of the week’s events, Megan Campbell, sophomore, Undeclared says “I think it’s important because we have a lot of new students coming to campus. This is week is all about showing people that MSU is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Any student can make a shirt in the quad all week from 2:30-5:30PM. There is also information on the LGBTQ Center and rainbow flags for sale in the Student Center Lobby everyday from 12-2PM. Additionally, on Thursday night there will be a Rainbow Candle Light Vigil and a dinner following.
Beyond this week, the LGBTQ Center always offers support for students who are coming out, such as its weekly peer-led drop in Coming Out Group held on Tuesdays at noon.
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