Coming Out Week Provides Safe Space for Students
Cassie Scott
cscot852@uwsp.edu
It is Coming Out week at the university which includes a week full of nightly events sponsored by Gender Sexuality Alliance for the campus community.

“Coming out week is a celebration of National Coming Out day, so it is just us [Gender Sexuality Alliance] taking that day and turning it into a week,” said Triston King, the Vice President of GSA.

GSA is a safe space for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning community. Coming Out week represents a week where students can relate to other students and feel comfortable with their sexuality.

“As we celebrate this week, it is for those students who are closeted so they have somewhere they feel safe and comfortable,” King said.

Each night, an LGBTQA themed event is scheduled, and anyone from the LGBTQA community, as well as straight individuals, are invited to attend to meet fellow students in a nonjudgmental environment.

“We want to emphasize the idea that as a campus community, we welcome anyone. It is nice to know you’re not alone because we support everyone, even those who decide to come out,” said Courtney Zamzow, Programming Coordinator on the GSA Executive Board.

Each event has an accepting environment that encourages individuals of any sexuality to feel comfortable with who they are, while also allowing them to get out and have some fun.​“All of the events are fun and they are also great experiences,” Zamzow said. “Students can learn through another person’s experience and let out their emotions in the LGBTQA friendly atmosphere.”

Although Thursday’s event, Plan B Trip, is full, students are encouraged to attend Friday’s event. This event, Sex in the Dark, will take place in the DUC Alumni Room at 7 p.m.

The Sex in the Dark program is an anonymous sex discussion with individuals of all sexual orientations. The free flowing question-and-answer discussion will take place with the lights out, protecting an individual’s identity.

“Sex in the Dark is a safe space program where anyone can express themselves emotionally and sexually. Some residence halls have had this type of program, although it was mainly heterosexual, and now ours is homosexual as well,” King said.

Regardless of sexuality, GSA members promote that coming out week is open to anyone.

“These events are open to anyone, queer or straight. Straight people can have just as much fun as anyone,” Zamzow said. Zamzow identifies herself as a pansexual. She describes a pansexual person to be someone who has an emotional attraction towards people of any gender identity.

Zamzow would like to dispel the myth that the events will be ‘just a bunch of gay people’ but instead encourages people to take a step out of their comfort zones and attend an event, even if it is just to give it a try.

King notes that some individuals believe that the LGBTQA community is seen to have requirements and wouldlike others to know that isn’t true. “People think gay people know fashion or are sassy, and that may be a reason why some people don’t come out, because they don’t feel they fit that stereotype, but they don’t have to,” King said.

“These events are a good sense of pride for the LGBTQA community, they seem interesting,” said Jensen Wohlgemuth, a junior elementary education student, that planned to attend the events until a work conflict arose.

Even if the UWSP campus community members aren’t able to make it to any of the events, GSA has an office in the basement of the University Center and welcomes anyone.

“Anyone can come to the Resource Center in the basement of the DUC in room 70B,” King said, and looks forward to using Coming out week to make GSA visible as an organization on campus.