By Nalee Praseutsack
National Coming Out Day commemorates the struggle of those who have opened up about who they are and those who have yet to come out. In honor of this day, Lawrence University’s GLOW group provided a safe space for people to express their identities and connect with others.
While National Coming Out Day was officially on Saturday, Oct. 11, GLOW held an event in the Mead-Witter Room on Oct. 9 to avoid cutting into people’s weekends. The event was a two hour long gathering in which people could share stories of coming out, socialize with other people of similar identities, and even come out themselves.
Elizabeth Graber, a senior and president of GLOW, emphasized the importance of creating “a safe space for people to come out as anything they wanted.” In order to accomplish this, confidentiality was stressed in the sense that people were not allowed to share what others had said. Graber described the safe space for anyone as a place where “people will not judge them and will support them.”
The GLOW event pertained not only to providing a space for people to come out as LGBT, but also anything pertinent to their own identity. Graber noted that some people come out “as feminists, or [with] anxiety or depressed.”
“Coming out is more than a one-time thing,” Graber said. “Every time you meet a person, you have to decide if you want to come out to them.”
On the other hand, coming out was not a requirement. GLOW did not want people to feel forced to make a declaration. The purpose of the safe space was to share information comfortably and through interacting with others. Graber explained that hearing others’ stories could help people “find out that there are resources for [them].”
Freshman Anna Electra Arnade, who attended the event, did feel that “there were a lot of supportive people there.” Arnade felt it was also a good place to meet people through learning about their experiences. She became friends and acquaintances with a few people because she “got to know them more” at the event.
When asked how Lawrence as a whole was as a supportive community and environment for people to come out, Graber said that because Lawrence is “diverse in all of our [student body’s] identities,” it was a good environment.
When someone comes out, confidentiality is important. Graber’s advice was to “never out anyone” if they have come out to you. “When someone comes out to you, they are giving you a part of themselves,” Graber said. “[That part] is theirs to decide who they want to know [about it].” Further, you should “be supportive [of] however they want to be.”