Balloons of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple arched over UC Irvine’s Ring Road on Oct. 11 in celebration of National Coming Out Day.
Every year, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center sponsors ‘Coming Out Week,’ which fell on Oct. 9 to 15 this year.
The LGBTRC aims to educate students of various sexual identities and raise awareness that there is a safe haven for them on campus. UCI has a relatively large student body and its gay community is rather small, but its voice does not go unnoticed.
Roger Becker, chairman of the Irvine Queers organization, hopes this week shows that “there are gay people on this campus and it’s not so conservative,’ as many may think.
By ‘creating [more] awareness and supporting [students in their] coming out process’ the gay community is better able to amplify their voice and offer support through centers like the LGBTRC.
The LGBTRC, founded to ensure a safe campus for ‘UCI’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally communities,’ is comprised of committees, staff members, interns and student volunteers.
Event coordinator Stephanie Chang would like to provide ‘more visibility for the LGBT community’ and ‘a climate on campus that is welcoming’ through the celebration of Coming Out Week. Chang also commented that the intention of Coming Out Week was not to create a name for the LGBTRC, but to help students become more aware of the gay community and the resources and outlets that they can utilize here at UCI.
Events throughout the week included two keynote speakers Marcia Gallo, a lesbian author and social justice activist, and Raci Ignacio, featured transgender student in the documentary ‘TransGeneration.’ Both individuals spoke to students about life experiences, the importance of sexual knowledge and the complications of identifying one’s self.
A ‘Coming Out’ panel was put on by the Irvine Queers to talk about the experiences of coming out.
Safe Zone training is a program that is also available for students to learn the vitality of communication and support regarding sexual orientation issues.
‘Say It Out Loud’ was a platform where students could feel comfortable expressing their sexual identity to a group of peers.
An annual bonfire in Corona del Mar was offered Friday to allow the entire UCI community to socially connect with one another.
First-year Amanda Athnasuros, who is straight, said that Coming Out Week has ‘helped her break stereotypes and see from a different perspective’ the diverse LGBT community. The week was a success in her mind.
LGBT member Matt Espino said that coming out week was a ‘good opportunity for everyone to expand their knowledge and horizons of LGBT.’
‘It helps people become aware and gives opportunity to communicate,’ Espino said. ‘There will be many events to follow for the gay community but a better way that students can get involved is to volunteer or become part of the LGBT community by visiting the resource center in [Gateway Commons], becoming a member of the Irvine Queers or by simply creating more conversation on the topic of homosexuality. With this, the entire UCI body can learn to be more accepting and supportive.’
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