Beth Gowitzke Contributing Writer
On Friday Oct. 11, the Eastern Pride Center celebrated National Coming Out Day. This event was held as a safe space for people to talk about their coming out stories and socialize with other people in the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. They also had an option to anonymously submit their coming out stories if they did not want to share them openly with the community. The celebration also included an area for students to make friendship bracelets that corresponded with the flag that they identified with, or to just make bracelets for fun.
There was also a variety of food— a station with chicken tenders and buffalo wings, a fruit platter, and even a cupcake-decorating station. The cupcake station came with multiple different colored frostings such as pink or green, and there were a variety of sprinkles to top them off.
Many faculty and stuff members also attended the event, including Bergstrom Lynch, who is the Department Chair of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work. Other people who attended included several RA’s and Shawn Gilhuly who is the Hall Director of Niejadlik. They all came in support of Coming Out Day, the Pride Center, and the students in the community who identify as LGBTQ+.
In addition, as a parting gift, the Pride Center provided goodie bags that had a coloring page and stickers. The goodie bags served as a way to have students remember the fun or informative time they had at the event. Students were also able to reflect on how far LGBTQ+ rights have come and the origins of National Coming Out Day.
2019 marks the thirty-first anniversary of National Coming Out Day. According to The Advocate, on Oct. 11, 1987, over half a million people marched for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington, D.C. On the same day, a year later, LGBTQ+ activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary founded National Coming Out Day. Rob Eichberg was a psychologist and founder of the personal growth workshop, “The Experience”. Jean O’Leary was a lesbian political leader, longtime activist, and the head of National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles.
These individuals are only a small part of the progress that this community has made and will continue to make in the coming years.
Shandra Witke, a graduate intern for the Pride Center, talked about how long this event has been going on for at Eastern. She said in an interview with The Campus Lantern, “Every year since this room became the Pride Center (it used to be called the Pride Room and was in another place in the Student Center) National Coming Out Day has been celebrated.” She also talked about what National Coming out Day means to her personally. “To me it’s a celebration of being able to be who you are and be that open. It’s also a good time to be with a community, be with friends, and especially if you are someone who is not out, gives that space to be with others in the community.”
Be sure to attend next year’s National Coming Out Day celebration and continue to support the Pride Center in their effort to bring more awareness to LGBTQ+ issues.
Another event that students can look forward to next week, is a film screening of a feature length documentary titled “Gautam & Buddha.” This event is going to be held on Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Theater and is co-hosted by the Pride Center in conjunction with the Art Gallery.
In regards to Issue 1, for the articles, “Eastern Welcomes New Faculty, and “New Updates to Eastern” information for these were provided by the Office of Provost and The Office of Facilities Management and Planning