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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Coming Out Day encourages acceptance of sexual orientation

Pride+Parade
Photo by File
Pride Parade

This Wednesday will mark the 29th year for Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day, which was first established on the anniversary on National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights of 1979.
This day is designated in two-fold: A day for people to begin living openly, whatever that may mean to them and a day to celebrate the courage it takes to live an open life, according the to the HRC.
National Coming Out Day was created based on the idea that coming out is a basic tool of power, per the HRC website.
One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10, according to the HRC.
When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, personal stories can be powerful to each other, according to HRC.
The HRC website lists different situations in which people may come out, including coming out to one’s boss, a situation that Leora Hart, communication junior and vice president of LGBTQ Aggies, has encountered.
Neither federal nor state law bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. As as a result, an LGBTQ Texan has no recourse if an employer, landlord, or shopkeeper discriminates against them, according to the ACLU of Texas website.
Out of uncertainty of her employer’s reaction and fear of being fired, Hart said she hasn’t disclosed her sexuality at work.
“It’s easier, safer and more comfortable to keep my sexuality private in professional settings, for me personally,” Hart said. “If I was asked directly, I would be honest about my sexuality.”
Hart said she would like to see equal treatment with people who are straight in disclosing one’s sexuality.
“I really would like for coming out to not be an event that queer people feel they have to do,” Hart said. “Straight people don’t feel the need to come out as straight to their friends, peers and family and ideally I would like for queer people to have that same privilege.”
The reminder of an existing gender and sexual minority is a good outcome of Coming Out Day, according to Hart. However, she said she is worried that the day itself may create stress or safety issues for those who may not be ready to come out.
Although Hart said there are many accepting and supportive Aggies, she added that it can be difficult to feel immediately comfortable at A&M as a queer student, especially when considering she began to come out to her peers in high school.
“I avoid bringing up my sexuality unless asked, but I don’t hide anything from professors or classmates,” Hart said.
Because every story is different, each person needs support in different ways, according to Katie Stober, Aggie Allies president and associate director of graduate student services at the career center.
Knowing how to respond to someone after they come out to you can be difficult, but Stober said showing appreciation of their willingness to come out is the ideal option.
“Well first of all, just let them know that you are honored that they have shared this, that they have entrusted you with this knowledge,” Stober said. “So the first thing I would say is ‘Thank you so much’ for telling me this. I’m very honored and privileged that you selected me as a trusted person to tell this to.”
Allies can be a resource on National Coming Out Day, according to Stober.
“Sometimes families or friends are not as accepting or loving as we would like them to be, so it’s important to have allies there to celebrate coming out day, but it’s also important to have allies there if someone’s coming out day did not go they way they hoped it would,” Stober said.
Considering the idea that some people are more public about their sexuality than others, allies should try to ask questions that show interest in how open the person is, according to Stober. She added that education is a way to become more involved in the LGBTQ community.
“Get to know people. Go outside your comfort zone and come to an allies workshop. Maybe even attend a meeting of a student organization,” Stober said. “There’s various student organizations on campus for LGBTQ students and allies.”
For more information about resources on campus, visit the GLBT Resource Center webpage at www.studentlife.tamu.edu/glbt.

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