The University of Rhode Island’s Gender and Sexuality Center and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance will be hosting a celebration for National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 on the quad.
Each year, millions of LGBTQ Americans celebrate National Coming Out Day to honor their identities and take pride in themselves. Coming Out Day is just one event here at the University that is a part of Coming Out Month, and there are a lot of other upcoming events taking place this month to celebrate as well.
Tables will be set up from LGBTQ organizations with resources and information. There are also plenty of activities planned for the day, including crafts and games. There will be a station for rainbow sand art and painting.
The main attraction for the event is a huge, symbolic, rainbow “coming out” door for students to walk through and “come out” of. Skylar Nelson, a senior at URI and the president of SAGA, said that the rainbow door symbolizes people coming out of the closet, but can also mean coming out as anything they choose.
“It can mean coming out as a new major, coming out to a change in your life or coming out as gay or queer. You can just be whatever you want.”
Coming Out Day is also a significant event for LGBTQ students on campus. Nate Vaccaro, a student staff member at the Gender and Sexuality Center who is also involved in planning the event, said “visibility is incredibly important,” and this event offers just that.
Vaccaro said that coming to a tremendous school like URI as an LGBTQ student can be very difficult and oftentimes they can feel very isolated. However, having a large scale event on the quad like this shows that we’re here as a campus for LGBTQ kids as a support and acceptance system and that they matter.
Vaccaro explained that it’s the size and visibility of the event that screams validity about how URI is taking steps to recognize the diversity of its population. Having an event like this gives students courage to be true to themselves and “celebrate what makes you unique,” said Vaccaro.
The day is also aiming to inspire people who have not yet come out to do so if they feel comfortable. By running events like these, the Gender and Sexuality Center hopes to expand the LGBTQ population of not only students, but also staff members on campus, and also diminish bias and hate towards the LGBTQ community.
“It’s a time to celebrate acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” said Nelson. “It’s important to support people during this time, because coming out isn’t easy for everybody. It’s a process. People come out multiple times for different identities and it’s just really important to support a fostering environment on campus.”
Nelson said that they hope the overwhelming support of this event is felt by the community.
“[The event] shows how many people are out there to support you,” said Nelson. “Since the Gender and Sexuality Center is so far away from a lot of things on campus, putting a big rainbow door in the middle of the quad is a huge symbol that we’re here.”