LGBTQ* Services celebrates National Coming Out Day with a picnic at the Staller Steps during Campus Lifetime on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Photo courtesy of SBU’s LGBTQ* Services at the Center for Prevention and Outreach Facebook page.
By Kristy Gerlett
News Copy Editor
In honor of National Coming Out Day, Stony Brook University’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Services celebrated early with a picnic at the Staller Steps during Campus Lifetime on October 8.
“Some folks it’s really profound for them, other folks completely reject the idea of coming out,” said John Martin, a graduate assistant at LGBTQ* Services. “It really depends on the person.”
The picnic was apart of LGBTQ* Services Campus Life Series which holds weekly events meant to bring greater awareness and acceptance to the LGBTQ* community on campus. Chris Tanaka, coordinator of LGBTQ* Services, hosted the event and wanted to create an environment where members of the community could feel welcomed, safe and form lasting friendships.
“We wanted an event out in the open where folks could come and hangout and just say, ‘This is who I am. I’m happy and proud about it,’” Tanaka said.
Freshman Derrick Wegner, a biology major, reminisced on the moment when she came out to her family and friends in high school.
“We were all just kinda hanging out in the kitchen and it just happened,” Wegner said. “The conversation came up organically. They said how about you and then they were like ‘okay, cool’.”
Wegner, Martin and Tanaka all said that even though the day is meant to openly embrace one’s identity in the LGBTQ* community, not all have to or should.
“It depends on the person, the situation, the environment, whether coming out is a good thing,” Tanaka said. “Let’s say they come out to their family, then their family kicks them out and they’re homeless. Being out is sometimes dangerous.”
Wegner said that those who are reluctant due to fear or backlash, yet still want to come out, should start by forming a small group of people who supports him or her.
“Create a small support group of people who you can trust, who you know will accept you,” Wegner said. “ With their support, you can slowly grow your outed circle.”
Martin prides himself in not restricting or limiting identity, which he says is complex and not cut-and-dry.
“For me it was a form of protest not to come out because ‘coming out’ into what, right?” Martin said. “Coming out in that sense can restrict who I am by making a declarative statement. ‘I am…’ something makes people think that’s what I am and that’s it.”
National Coming Out Day is officially October 11 , which is the anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that took place in 1987.