Various organizations from campus and the community educated Weber State University students on resources available for members of the LGBT community on Monday.
The National Coming Out Day Celebration and Resource Fair, held in the Shepherd Union, was the opening event of LGBTQ Pride Week. According to Kestin Page, president of WSU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, the main purpose of the event was to increase LGBT visibility at the university.
“We actually have a fairly large LGBT community here at Weber State,” Page said. “And, it is overall a very inclusive and welcoming environment to all students.”
Even with all the recent progress for LGBT rights, Page also still sees room for improvement.
“There is still a lot of progress to be made,” he said. “The school administration is very inclusive and with events and education like this, a lot of stereotypes will be broken down.”
Page and the GSA are not the only ones trying to bridge the gap between the LGBT and cisgender communities on campus. Nathaniel Klemm, a leadership team member of Affirmation and recent WSU graduate in physics, addressed a very specific sub-group of the LGBT community.
“Affirmation is a group created by and for LGBT Mormons,” Klemm said.
Klemm, who said that he has just recently become comfortable with talking about his homosexuality, explained that while wanting to be active in his LDS faith, he felt like there was not really a place for him.
“We have a large LGBT community on campus, but they and the LDS community rarely mix,” Klemm said. Affirmation, he said, finally made him feel at home.
“We sort of are in the gap,” Klemm said. “And we try to bridge the gap because the gap is in ourselves.”
According to Klemm, those whom he has come out to have been very supportive.
Page said that these cases are common. “Those who are in the closet should know that there is nothing wrong with them and that there are many people who will love you for who you are,” he said.
Along with student-run organizations, the university also provides resources to the LGBT community. Familiar organizations, such as the Women’s Center and the Counseling Center, were also represented at the fair.
For Chris Chapman, a psychologist at the WSU Counseling Center who has specialized in LGBT clients, it is particularly important to get the word out about resources all across campus and the community.
“When you are thinking about coming out, you should know that there are other folks like you who would love to share their experiences and help you,” Chapman said. “You are not alone.”
To help those LGBT individuals who are struggling with an aspect of their life, Chapman has initiated a support group that meets weekly at the LGBT Resource Center in the Student Services building. He said that on average, 10 to 15 people attend the meetings, but large portions of the student body remain unaware.
“The problem is that with the nature of the college, there is really not a lot of opportunity to build a community,” Chapman said, pointing at WSU being largely a commuter campus. “We try to make it a place to build a support community.”