Out Week Attempts to Promote Open Minds

Ever wanted to become more active on campus? More specifically, would you like to be involved with concerns about student life other than the more visible ones? Once in a while, unique campus organizations give you that chance.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center has a national ‘Coming Out Week’ celebration at UCI every year. This year, it took place during the week of Oct.11.
The event aims to encourage honesty regarding sexual orientation and educate students about the LGBT community.
There are between 10 to 15 volunteers and seven peer counselors at the center who work with students and involve them with the LGBT community.
‘The purpose is visibility on campus [and] just to increase student awareness of the fact that these clubs exist and that we are here,’ said Eva Vieyra-McDaniel, a second-year literary journalism major.
The two clubs that organized this event at UCI are OUTspoken and the Irvine Queers. They both held several events during the celebration for anyone who was interested in learning more or actually becoming involved. Anyone with an open mind and questions to ask was invited to participate.
These events included discussion meetings, a movie night, an open-mic night and a coming out bonfire.
‘I think that Coming Out Week is not just about awareness,’ said Kristen Greenough, a peer counselor for the LGBTRC. ‘It’s to show the fact that we are here, and that we have information and we can help with anything. It’s really hard for people to feel comfortable finding out about information. Hopefully this is an easier way for students to come by and pick up some information and help them get involved.’
However, many feel that the UCI community has a difficult time embracing the LGBT lifestyle.
‘The response is pretty ambivalent,’ Vieyra-McDaniel said. ‘I think the students here choose not to acknowledge [the lifestyle] and don’t really know how to acknowledge it. It’s difficult for [UCI students] to give us a lot of feedback on how they feel.’
Thus, the LGBTRC has been printing an ‘Outlist,’ which lists the names of all students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends that identify with or are allies of the LGBT community, for the past eight years.
The list expresses that ‘Pride Through Visibility’ is the motto embraced to support their community.
There is a consent form that can be picked up if you are interested in becoming part of the list, which is displayed every fall quarter in the New University newspaper and the InQueery publication on campus.
If you’d like to learn more or become involved as a volunteer or peer counselor, visit the LGBTRC Web site, www.lgbtrc.uci.edu, or e-mail at lgbtrc@uci.edu. Everyone is also welcome to stop by.