National Coming Out Day is an event celebrated annually on October 11th across the United States in honor of the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Coming Out Day began in 1988 with Robert Eichberg, founder of the personal growth workshop The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, openly gay political leader and one-time head of the National Gay Rights Advocates. We celebrate this event in hopes of raising awareness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities and the civil rights battle therein. At Central Michigan University, the goal is very much the same.
National Coming Out Day at CMU has been turned into a week of events designated to encourage students of all sexual orientations and gender identities to come out and learn about the LGBTQ community. The week is designed to empower students through the coming out process. It provides those who want to come out a safe community in which to do so, as well as providing them with the resources to better understand themselves. Coming Out Week also raises awareness of the resources that are available to LGBTQ students on the CMU campus. The events are designed to support the entire CMU community through fun and educational experiences.
Some of the events on the CMU campus are traditional, while others vary from year to year. This year’s traditional events are:
Coming Out at Kaya: An event in which students are able to share their coming out stories or their ally stories, is geared towards providing the LGBTQ community and allies a way to share their stories of empowerment with other students, and
Drag Queen Bingo: Where Sabin, a popular Michigan-based Drag Queen, comes to CMU to play Bingo with students, providing an enjoyable, often comedic, affair where many students stop by to have a lot of fun.
Other events this year are:
“Pariah” (Movie) and Safe Zone Training: This semester, we will also be presenting the film “Pariah”, as well as continuing Safe Zone Training which presents students and staff alike with the opportunity to become a safe space for LGBTQ students to come to for help.
The CMU community as a whole is supportive of the varying events hosted and every year there is a great turnout, which affirms the Office of LGBTQ Services continuance of the annual event. Coming Out Week is a truly beneficial event to the students at Central Michigan University.
(Lauren A. Kellogg, Intern at The Office of LGBTQ Services at Central Michigan University, contributed to this post)