National Coming Out Day is recognized internationally on Oct. 11 as a day to celebrate individuals who publicly identify within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trasngendered (LGBT) community. This year for National Coming Out Day, Emory & Henry College celebrated in a bigger way than I have ever seen before. The Gay Straight Alliance was in top form. We made rainbow cupcakes and buttons, giving them to students who supported our efforts. We spray painted a door in rainbow colors and set it up outside the cafeteria, beside our pride flag. The door was a symbol—open for anyone who wanted to walk through it and declare his or her sexuality. The flag was there for everyone to sign, showing support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual (LGBTQQIAAP) community.
There were many ways we tried to spread the message of equality and justice to the community during that week. On Mon., Oct. 10, there was a church service held celebrating and preparing for the week ahead. On Tue., National Coming Out Day, Campus Christian Fellowship held a discussion about homosexuality in the church.
Also that evening, the Appalachian Center for Community Service sponsored a film screening by Appalachian Media Institute (AMI). Films screened were A Little Piece of Me, Uncle Ray and Through Their Eyes: Stories of Gays and Lesbians in the Mountains. Guests from AMI, including Savannah Swiney, one of the producers of A Little Piece of Me, were on hand to lead a discussion and answer questions about these short documentaries that follow gay and lesbian people in eastern Kentucky as they share their stories about living in their communities.
From that conversation came a smaller one Wed., Oct. 12, facilitated by the guests from AMI, that was comprised of only members of the LGBT community on campus. We discussed how we might make structural changes on campus that will help us deal with the growing issues of discrimination and bullying and ways to make the campus a more inclusive environment for all; not just those who identify in the LGBT community.
The events of that week were certainly a success and we have great plans and motivation for the future because we are a part of a supportive community.