Tuesday was National Coming Out Day, and the Oklahoma State Queers & Allies decided to celebrate.
The organization held its event Coming Out Stories to encourage audience members to take the open microphone and share their experiences coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or as an ally.
Many students could not narrow down their coming out story to a single event or experience. Rather, the stories began years ahead of the instance of officially “coming out.” Some began their story as early as second grade, while others started their narrative in high school.
Regardless of when their story started, students seemed to agree that coming out was complicated.
“Coming out is a process,” said Galen Bunting, a literature graduate student. “You don’t come out once. A lot of the time, even after you come out the first time, you think that you come out once and you’re done. It’s over. You’re happy for it, but that wasn’t really the case with me, and I don’t think that that was really the case with anyone else.”
Students spoke on their experiences coming out first to themselves and then to friends, family and the general public. They told stories of discrimination, shaming, depression and self-harm but also of hope and acceptance.
Speakers shared struggles that any college student could relate to in finding friends, building healthy relationships with those around them and in discovering the meaning in their lives. They spoke on how being LGBTQ affected or amplified these challenges.
Irissa Baxter, coordinator of women’s and LGBTQ affairs, said one intention of Coming Out Stories was to create a positive environment and to express pride for LGBTQ students, regardless of whether they have come out.
“The event really is a way to support students both in their coming out and in the decision that they make, the difficult decision, of coming out,” Baxter said. “We are a supportive community here at OSU, and this is a place for you to be yourself and to come out and to be whoever you are.”
The OSQ&A’s next event will be a screening of the documentary “Julio of Jackson Heights” a question and answer discussion will follow at 7 p.m. Thursday in Student Union 408.