Students across Cornell’s campus celebrated National Coming Out Day Thursday, hosting events LGBTQ leaders said they hoped would help raise awareness of and garner support for issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer community.
“The goal of [the day] is to increase awareness and start discussions. It’s mainly focused on finding allies in the community,” Emily Bick ’13, president of HAVEN, said on Thursday. “We know that LGBTQ people may not come out today, but they will feel more supported by feeling support on campus and seeing their friends come out in support of them.”
National Coming Out Day is not limited to individuals who choose to “come out” or publicly disclose their sexual orientation, according to Bick. She said another primary focus of the day is to reach out and recruit new allies, whose support she said helps make Cornell a more welcoming place for the LGBTQ community.
The holiday is also not limited to people who identify as gay, according to Carlos Cortes ’14, president of Mosaics, a student group that describes itself as a network for “same-gender-loving people of color and allies.”
“National Coming Out Day … wasn’t meant to be just for the gay community. It’s meant to be an all-inclusive coming out, whether you want to come out as straight, gay, transsexual or bisexual,” Cortes said, adding, “It’s whatever identity you chose.”
Throughout the day, events sponsored by HAVEN — the LGBTQ student union — and the Student Assembly were held on Ho Plaza and across campus.
Events included performances by various a cappella groups; a “Coming Out” dinner at Risley Dining Hall; a training session for Peer Educators on Gender and Sexuality, an organization of LGBTQ students and allies; and more.
Bick said HAVEN will also launch its traditional monthly LGBTQ dances this Saturday night.
Thursday was more a celebration of sexual identity and a chance for Cornellians to come together and support one another than it was a political forum, according to Bick.
“National Coming Out Day is less about political issues and more about the school and creating a safe and supportive community within Cornell,” she said.
Cortes noted that Thursday’s events were a good opportunity to try to engage more minority students in the LGBTQ community.
“Just being at National Coming Out Day and showing pride in our community is important because we are so uniquely different and want to represent all members of Cornell’s diverse community,” he said.