UT celebrates National Coming Out Week

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To conclude National Coming Out Week, student organization StandOut will be hosting a “Closet Door Signing” event meant to garner support for LGBT students Thursday.

Over the course of the week, various organizations hosted events aimed toward education on LGBT issues. Tuesday, the Gender and Sexuality Center hosted a panel discussion about disclosing sexual orientation in the workplace. Wednesday, Shane Whalley, the center’s education and outreach coordinator, led a talk on how heterosexual students can support and serve as allies for LGBT students. The week of pro-LGBT events will culminate Thursday with the door signing.

The Closet Door Signing, which will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the East Mall, features a painted pink-and-purple wooden door students can sign to advertise their support for the LGBT community. According to StandOut secretary Matt Gracia, the signatures send a message to LGBT students on campus.

“Over the course of the day the closet door becomes a symbol of coming out for LGBT rights,” Gracia, a women’s and gender studies junior, said.

Although the door signatures serve a primarily symbolic purpose, the event will also involve political action. StandOut will have several computers set up so that students can contact legislators to communicate their support.

“We want students to call representatives in their district and say, ‘I support gay and transgender rights and you should too,’” Gracia said.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT rights group, LGBT activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary founded the first-ever National Coming Out Day in 1988. UT student organizations started sponsoring celebratory events on campus more recently. Ana Ixchel Rosal, Gender and Sexuality Center director, said National Coming Out Day has been celebrated in some way at UT for at least eight years.

“This event has happened at least every year since I’ve been here,” Rosal said. “It’s coordinated differently every year.”

Although all of the week’s activities are meant to support LGBT students in general, they are also geared toward encouraging heterosexual students and elected officials to “come out” as allies in support of community issues. 

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: StandOut hosts Closet Door Signing