Students Speak Out on National Coming Out Day

By Amy Borsuk '14Staff Writer

Despite the hot weather that Sunday afternoon, Queer Resource Center and fellow Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Allies enthusiastically broke out the paint and paintbrushes to paint Pomona’s famous Walker Wall to mark the beginning of National Coming Out Week.  With the first strokes of white paint against the hot-pink background, these students marked the beginning of a week about celebrating sexual and gender identities that are not hetero-normative, and being proud of this identity.  The Queer Resource Center’s website defines the process of coming out as “the process by which one accepts their sexual or gender identity. It also refers to the process by which one shares their sexual orientation or gender identity with others. Coming out is circular, not linear and it is a continual, life-long process.”

October 11th marked the official National Coming Out Day, a day which encourages LGBTQ students to start talking to family and friends about their sexual and gender identities in order to spread awareness, acceptance and understanding through talks, celebration, discussion and questions about the LGBTQ community. Walker Wall reads: “National Coming Out Day, October 11, 2010, I’m coming out as…” leaving its artists and passersby to fill in their own ending to the sentence. Those who painted the wall set examples of possible endings to that sentence by putting their handprint on the wall and writing their sexual or gender identity next to it.

“I loved painting Walker Wall!” said Emma Friedenberg (’13). “I think it’s a great way to get people together.” This togetherness is very apparent with the array of handprints on the wall.  Identities such as “queer,” “genderqueer,” “pansexual” and even “the most queer” were scattered across the wall, showing the diversity of personal identities even within the LGBTQ community. One student even stopped by to add an equally important, out-and-proud identity: no longer homophobic.

A “Coming Out Panel” was hosted at Harvey Mudd’s Platt Room, creating a space for students to talk with panelists about this process of “coming out” and answer questions.  The Queer Resource Center offers discussion sessions every week in order to talk about various issues and causes within the LGBTQ community. The QRC, which hosts weekly Tuesday Talks on issues and current events in the LGBTQ community, focused on the issues surrounding the coming out process.

Although these events are part of a celebration, they are models for discussions and questions that can be held and raised at any time. The week was another way to get people to start talking about sexual orientation and gender identity in a constructive, positive space with people who want to hear everyone’s voice and everyone’s story.