Northern Colorado GLBTA group sponsors Home "Coming-Out" event
On Friday several members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and alliance community discussed what, for many, was one of the hardest things they ever did:
coming out to friends and family.
As a part of homecoming week, the UNC GLBTA Resource Office sponsored the event called Home "Coming-Out" at the University Center. Students and faculty discussed available services on campus and shared their own experiences.
The event was hosted as a way to inform students about the GLBTA community, raise awareness that October is National Coming Out month and to recognize Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day.
Members of the GLBTA community describe coming out as a unique experience that can be daunting, devastating and ultimately liberating.
One activity that attendees participated in was called Coming Out Stars, which allowed everyone to experience what it might be like to come out.
Depending on the color of star that an individual was given the participant might find themselves fully accepted or ostracized, judged, harassed or disowned by family and friends.
For several participants this was an emotional experience; a few people shed tears during the activity and while individuals' stories were shared.
"All have the power to step up and be better," said Christopher Cottingham, a senior communication studies major.
One student shared a story from the past summer. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, talked about her experience after she began dating a girl.
She had talked to her roommate about it, stating that if she was not comfortable with it, she would readily move out to make things better.
Initially her roommate said she had no problem with it, and was even supportive. Later on, her roommate changed her mind, telling her she was not okay with her having a girlfriend or her way of life. The woman felt she needed to go to her RA, but she was only met with questions she felt were both hurtful and unfair, such as, "Are you checking her out? Are you attracted to her? Have you hit on her?"
"(This situation) breaks my heart, makes you feel completely alone," she said.
She said she hopes no one else has to go through this kind of experience, but knows so many more will.
Linda Schmid, a licensed staff psychologist with the Counseling Center, said that while it is sometimes hard to talk with people about these situations, it can make a huge impact on a person's life if they know they have a safe place to be, to talk and to be themselves. Schmid encouraged attendees to be that person for someone, stating that they might just save a life.
The Counseling Center and Psychological Services encourage students struggling with sexual identity to take advantage of their services, which are available to students no matter what they are going through.
"It's difficult for everybody, about coming out, but for the majority there has been a much greater acceptance rate across the board, and also many students are no longer questioning their identity, because this topic is so widely publicized now," Schmid said.
Schmid said that it has been found it is better to talk about what someone is feeling and going through, because everyone's experience is different and challenging, and a trusted confidant is a helpful resource.
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