Posters have been popping up around campus promoting a “conservative coming out day” and the LGBT community has a lot to say about it.
“My sexuality is not a butt of a joke! Shame on you, Big government sucks,” said one sign written in response to the conservative posters.
The fliers from conservative student group Turning Point USA started to show up on campus around the start of October.
The sign reads, “Tired of being silenced on campus? There are people who think just like you, let’s party!”
Timing and word choice have sparked the majority of the controversy surrounding the fliers. The phrase “coming out of the closet” references the process where individuals reveal their sexual preferences to those around them. This process can be extremely difficult or even impossible for some members of the LGBT community, and it is seen as a serious accomplishment. The idea of a conservative coming out party was seen by some students as co-opting the struggle people with various sexual identities face.
The backlash Turning Point has received is not completely unexpected. The fliers began to show up around West Campus around the beginning of October, which is the same time as the start of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center’s annual coming out week.
Each year the GSRC uses the week of Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, to host events and workshops which educate students about LGBT issues. The week was originally intended to bring more attention to problems faced by students with marginalised sexualites or gender identities.
This year, the GSRC brought in a transgender woman who served in the marines, Emma Shinn, to give a speech as part of the Coming Out Week events. Her speech is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just 30 minutes after the conservative coming out party is scheduled to begin.
One anthropology major who has been active in the LGBT community had a lot to say, but asked to have their name left out to avoid additional harassment on campus.
“This day is supposed to be a celebration for those who have come out of the closet and those who are not ready,” she said. “Those posters that they originally posted were not taken well. It was disrespectful.”
According to Turning Point leadership, the choice to hold a “conservative coming out” party on National Coming Out Day was completely coincidental.
“When planning the event, we knew it was coming out week at UNC. However, we did not know our event fell on National Coming out Day. We hold no animosity to the LGBT community and we welcome them to come and engage in dialogue with us,” Turning Point Leadership said.
The GSRC will continue to host events through Oct. 13.
Turning Point USA hosted their meeting on Oct. 11. You can read bout it here.