National Coming Out Day was Oct. 11. To commemorate the day, Weber State University’s Gay-Straight Alliance held a panel. It also had a closet door that people could come up and sign. The door had the words “Breaking down doors, coming out” painted on it.
“I want people to know that there are people who are out and that are supportive that are their same age, go to the same school as them and have grown up in a very conservative community,” said Kate Martinson, the president of GSA at WSU.
National Coming Out Day started as a day to commemorate the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
“When you get to share your coming-out story, oftentimes it gives a lot of support to people who don’t know what it’s like to come out or need to come out,” said Karlee Berezay, a sociology major who helped plan the panel. “There is definitely a teetering moment before you come out of kind of uncertainty.”
Berezay said some people might not come out because they are scared of what people they know will think. She said that before someone comes out, they think of every scenario of how people they tell might react.
“We also understand being in that place and knowing that sometimes they can’t come out, and that’s hard to do,” she said.
The panel consisted of four people, including Berezay and Martinson. The panelists discussed their coming-out stories and then answered questions from the audience.
“I had to come out to myself first,” said zoology sophomore and panel member Avery Lytle. “Being like, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK to be transgender, it’s all right, you are going to be happier this way,” that was the biggest lift for me. After that, it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought.”
Lytle said he often has people tell him they don’t understand, and he said he doesn’t care whether they understand or not.
One of the issues discussed was the older generations and how they might not be as accepting of the LGBTQ community.
“Our biggest enemy in equality is ignorance,” said Colten Marshall, an anthropology senior sitting on the panel, “because people don’t know; they take those stereotypes and that’s where they get this vision of who they’re fighting against.”
Martinson said the GSA hopes to have the LGBTQ center open by the end of the month, but she said it will definitely be open by the end of the semester.
“It’s not something that defines us; it’s just a part of us, it’s who we love,” Marshall said. “It plays a big part in our life solely because people make such a big deal about it. If it wasn’t this big hot topic, we would be just like everybody else.”
The door for the Coming Out Day event will be in the new LGBTQ center, which will be within the Center for Diversity and Unity.
“It will also be a good promotion for our soon-to-be LGBT center,” Berezay said. “We want to provide a lot of resources for people who need to come out or want to come out and don’t know how.”