Kaylyn Boccia, Staff Writer
The leaves are changing, the air is cooling and people are coming out. October has been dubbed as Coming Out Month since 1994, with the inclusion of October 11 as National Coming Out Day. This day was founded by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary on October 11, 1988 in celebration and recognition of the second gay march in Washington D.C. The purpose of this march and of National Coming Out Day is to encourage government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender rights, as well as to celebrate homosexuality. It was initially known as Lesbian and Gay History Month, however, soon after, “bisexual” was added to the title and has since become known as LGBT history month.
During LGBT history month many events will be held on campus to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Coming Out Day. The Gender Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance held an event in the Quad on October 11. A fake closet was put up for anyone to “come out” of and rainbow flags were hung. T-shirts were also given out, and pride and spirit were evident among these students, as they celebrated this momentous day in history. Many more events are still to come throughout October, including a Drag Ball, Intersex Awareness Day, a visit from renowned bisexual activist Robyn Ochs as well as transgender basketball player Kye Allums.
Because of our society’s prejudices, coming out can be a difficult process for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and being proud of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The month of October does not focus on the negative prejudices in society surrounding the gay community, but instead, focuses on the celebration and liberation of being true to yourself.
It seems, as we get older and with the adaption to the ever-changing times, as well as gaining more mature peers, the easier it becomes to accept oneself. Eric Boccia, being beyond the awkward and tough years as a student, has now fully reached a point of pride and acceptance of himself. He shares his excitement about October being dedicated to the celebration of coming out and his expectations about the impact such a celebration can have on society when he said, “I think the more normal it becomes, the more the country will come around.” His own situation was positive. “Coming out was the most liberating experience of my life. For the first time I was free to be myself, and felt okay to show the real me. I finally felt like the person I was meant to be.” Today, he couldn’t be happier with whom he is as a person: “I am now in a committed, loving relationship, I am a full time teacher, I own a home; I am happy.”
Today, National Coming Out Day is recognized by all 50 states in addition to many countries around the world. Although we still have a long way to go as a completely accepting society, we have made huge strides in the right direction. In the world of media, there has been an increase in positive portrayals of the gay community in popular shows such as Glee and Modern Family, which have helped to spin the negative image, or stereotype given to members of the community, to a more positive one. This day and month of celebration, in itself, is also a huge step in the right direction.