Gender and Sexuality Alliance
extends national holiday “Coming Out Day” for an entire week in support of the
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community.
In the words of Triston King, a
sophomore in communications, Coming Out Week is a celebration for those who are
LGBTQ; for those coming out and saying, “This is me, and I don’t want to be
anyone else.” It is a week that is devoted to being a support to those who are
in the transition of coming out since this is not always the easiest thing to
“The biggest challenge is
usually always telling your family. Well, for me and a lot of other people, we
tell our friends first and then we have to work up the courage to tell our
families,” said Jacob Vandegeolde, a senior majoring in Spanish, international
studies, political science and this year’s GSA president.
GSA has faced some challenges
during coming out week. Vandegeold mentions GSA wants to let people in the
closet know that it is okay to be LGBTQ, but they might be so far in the closet
that they never get a chance to hear this message.
On the flip side, the
rewarding part is when this message is heard and GSA becomes a resource for
this diversity group.
GSA has joined with other UW
campuses to extend “Coming Out Day”, historically celebrated on October 11, to
an entire week.
Whether or not Coming Out Week
is a diversity issue and if the LGBTQ community is among the diverse population
on campus has been the topic of some debate.
“I feel like at an
institutional level there are still a lot of things some people don’t see as
being an issue, but we see it every day as something that needs to be
addressed,” Vandegeold said.
One of these prominent issues
has been the instillation of gender-neutral bathrooms.
“The needs of our students who
are transgendered are not being met. We don’t have gender neutral halls and
enough accessible gender neutral bathrooms on campus for our students,” said
Allie Schjoth, a junior sociology major and the administrative and
institutional support director for GSA.
Schjoth also mentioned she
thinks every diversity group feels like they are being ignored in some way, but
that’s a part of being a diversity group.
“Ten years from now, laws will
be absolutely created in favor of the LGBTQ community. The closet door has been
opened and destroyed,” King said.
Out Week is to raise awareness and support for students and individuals who may
not be comfortable “coming out” to friends or family, to remind them they are