In honor of National Coming Out Day, Hopkins’s Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA) took to the Breezeway last Thursday to raise awareness about the day and the club’s mission. Decorating the Breezeway with a rainbow banner, blaring music, and giving out free candy and condoms, they sold T-Shirts bearing the messages “DSAGA” and “FCKH8,” in support of a national campaign to fight homophobia.
“National Coming Out Day is all about learning to feel comfortable with yourself, and allowing you to feel comfortable telling this part of yourself to other people in your life,” junior Joseph Puma, Treasurer of DSAGA, said. “From telling your family, to your friends, to your co-workers, to other people you meet in your life, coming out is a continual process. National Coming Out Day is all about getting people to embrace this side of them.”
Leading up to National Coming Out Day, DSAGA held events throughout the preceding week. The first, and most intimate, event was held during a DSAGA general body meeting on Monday, Oct. 8. Members shared their own accounts of coming out.
“Everyone’s stories are so different, and everyone is on a different level than one another. Some people are out to family and close friends, while others are completely out to everyone. On the other hand, some are just out to our small DSAGA group. It’s really nice to hear everyone’s unique perspective,” Puma said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that for people who identify as gay and lesbian, coming out isn’t a one-time thing: it’s constant.”
DSAGA sponsored a screening of the Swedish film Show Me Love at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 to promote an understanding of the challenges and implications associated with coming out as a young adult.
“It focused on the lives of two girls in high school; one who is completely out and one who goes through this process of self-discovery that she is a lesbian. Once she realizes this, she struggles with coming out, mainly to her friends. We chose to show it because of its relevance to the process of coming out and its difficulties,” junior Anastasia Pierron, Events Coordinator of DSAGA, said.
Although no one came out during National Coming Out Day this year, DSAGA members still found the event effective in raising awareness.
“No one came out this year, but people have come out during this event in the past,” Puma said. “Most of the people who attended were already out to the people at DSAGA, while they are not out to friends, roommates, family, et cetera. Still, I think all of our events have gone really well.”
Although the film screening did not garner a large audience, DSAGA maintains that their efforts have been effective.
“Both National Coming Out Day and our club in general are about raising awareness, not necessarily about having tons and tons of people show up,” Puma said. “That’s why having the Breezeway reserved for the actual day was so important. We’re a relatively small group and not that easy to see on a day-to-day basis: just looking around you can’t really tell who’s gay or who’s straight. Being in a place that so many people pass by really gave us a chance to teach people about National Coming Out Day and overall raise awareness for it.”
Although DSAGA aimed to create a comfortable environment, some students found the festivities potentially overwhelming.
“I’m not sure how I felt about the ‘coming out’ doorway put up on the Breezeway,” freshman Raidizon Mercedes said. “It can be a good idea, depending on how comfortable someone is with their sexuality. If they are very open about it then it’s a good thing. However, if they are not very comfortable or even completely open about it, then it could be uncomfortable, because everyone knows what the doorway is for.
“While I think the Breezeway was a good place for awareness, I think having the attention on symbols of coming out, like the doorway, would have been better in an inside room, where things are more private and might feel more welcoming.”