The month of October celebrates LGBT history month, which includes National Coming Out Day, a day where LGBT people across the country embrace their coming out experience and support others as they go through the coming out process.
On Oct. 11, 2013, the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center, along with Stonewall Coalition, hosted the National Coming Out Day Fair on the C-Level Gym of One Pace Plaza, presenting LGBT Speakers and guest and student performers. Students were invited to watch performances, hear speeches and participate in an arts and crafts table where they were encouraged to create art that encouraged LGBT pride.
Kelly Herbert, Asst. Director of the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center, said of the program, “The LGBTQA Center works year round to educate communities and create spaces in our campuses, in our homes and in our hearts for people to just be themselves comfortably. We recognize National Coming Out Day with the understanding that there are still so many individuals who are unable to be out as queer or as an ally due to fear of real and lived consequences. We use this day to be visible, and work across and with our differences to validate the courage of those who came before us, and to create a path for those who keep coming.”
The National Coming Out Day Fair also demonstrated the various resources offered to the LGBT Community at New York City campus, including tables from Civilian Complain Review Board, which handed out information about ways to report police misconduct, and a speech from Reverend Pat Bumgardner from the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. University Alumnus Roberto Chavez said, “It seemed appropriate that there were spiritual leaders, poets and civic leaders showing their support to the Pace LGBTQA community. Stonewall Coalition and the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center once again showed Pace University that when we come out of the closet there are resources and people there for us.”
The performances and crafting stations symbolized the struggle that the LGBT community faces while coming out, and they showed the support in which this community is built upon. As demonstrated by the words of one of the poet performers at the fair, Sam LaRoche, “Coming Out Day is important for those coming out to know that there are places where they can live their lives openly and fully with acceptance and without fear. Everyone ‘comes out’ in his or her own time, and it is not done without strength, persistence and courage. Coming Out Day at Pace allows for us speakers to tell our stories, to reflect on our journey and reassure those in the community that living a happy and loved life is possible. This also speaks to non-LGBTQ members, helping them to understand the struggles that we face. I am grateful for where I am at now, but I didn’t come this far without tears that were shed along the way. I encourage all members of the community to find when it is right for them to Come Out and Stay Out. Some times I catch myself and I think ‘Oh yeah, I’m gay,’ and it fills me with joy because this is who I am and I get to be who I am openly, that is the greatest freedom I am blessed with.”
The LGBTQA and Social Justice center, Stonewall Coalition and the Lavender Ladies—a new organization for women who love women—have hosted a variety of events through out the month focused on celebrating LGBT pride and history, but also educating people and leading discussions about the various current issues for LGBTQA identified people. Events hosted include the Women Who Love Women Mixer, a Rocky Horror Picture Show Movie Outing and a dynamic workshop with Award Winning Activist and writer, Robyn Ochs, who’s book is called “Challenging Biphobia: What You Can Do.”
A discussion group, taking place in Oct. 25th, will discuss the various ways oppression, such as “racism, sexism, classism, and other ‘isms’” affect people in the LGBTQA who identify with various minority groups in race, gender and class. This is part of the Weekly Discussion Group Series of the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center, and takes place each Friday at 12 p.m. in 41 Park Row, Room 903.
Stonewall Coalition will be hosting the Halloween Ball filled with music, food and costunes. Stonewall Coalition will also be hosting a costume competition through out the night, along with a vogue competition. The ball will be taking place on Oct. 31st from 8p.m.- 2a.m. at the Student Union of One Pace Plaza.