By Cecilia Smith
Students snapped and clapped as peers and professors “came out” at PRIDE’s event to celebrate National Coming-Out Day.
The event took place on Thursday, Oct. 11.
A cardboard door set up in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center atrium at noon was the place to be for anyone planning on coming out as a member or an ally of the LGBTIQ community.
Members of PRIDE reported that roughly 50 people walked through the door to demonstrate their support for gay rights, an increase over the previous years.
The door acted as a visual representation of the presence of LGBTIQ students and allies on campus.
Junior Anthony Peddle, president of PRIDE, said the event was about more than students declaring sexual orientation.
“It’s a celebration of who you are and how you identify,” Peddle said. “We want to show that we are more than ‘Alphabet Soup.’”
Junior Jenna Culina, vice president of PRIDE, said that most students who come out are already “out” in the community but want to show support.
Chaplain Jon Powers also announced his continuing encouragement as a “proud ally,” saying that supporting gay rights is within his faith.
PRIDE added to the agenda this year an open discussion co-hosted with Better Together.
Students were invited to share their coming-out stories in a safe environment.
Allies talked about an enhanced or new perspective.
Some students told of coming to Ohio Wesleyan and becoming more tolerant of differing sexual orientations.
Freshman Mili Green said hearing others’ stories made her see the gay rights movement in a different light.
“I’ve seen the movies,” Green said, “But hearing the stories made it real to me.”
About 25 students showed up for the discussion portion of Coming Out Day. Peddle said the events get better every year.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in PRIDE membership and activism on campus,” Peddle said. “The storytelling event was really fun. It definitely opened the line of support around here.”
Several students said they appreciated the open environment and felt among friends.
Freshman Doug Gibson said he was nervous to walk through the door, but that he appreciated reassurance from peers.
“I did go through the door,” Gibson said. “I walked through and I said, ‘I don’t know what I am, but I love people, and I love love.’”