Students and staff came together at the coming out table Oct. 7-8 in the J.W. Jones Student Union to write encouraging messages for their peers as a way to kick off LGBTQ History Month on a positive note.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated every year Oct. 11 and coincides with LGBTQ History Month.
Ryan Miller, a junior who identifies as pansexual, remembers National Coming Out Day as a life-defining moment.
“I came out on NCOD a couple years ago and I remember every second of that day,” Miller said. “There was just love from people I didn’t expect it from and it just felt right to me.”
Miller came out as a freshman at Northwest and said it was the best decision he has ever made. Miller said he lost many friends because of his decision but gained more meaningful relationships.
Miller is not the only student who has come out during their time at Northwest. Senior Emma Johnson came out while studying abroad in London.
“My roommate at the time just told me it’s OK to be who you are,” Johnson said. “I still talk to her to this day, and I tell her thank you every chance I get because I needed help to come out.”
Johnson is pursuing a career in mass communications and plans to inform people on how to address sexuality properly. Johnson also feels that Northwest has been very accepting of her decision to come out.
“I thought people wouldn’t treat me the same because of Northwest being in a pretty rural place and their beliefs being kind of outdated,” Johnson said. “But I was totally wrong and everyone was so proud of me, and I loved it all.”
Johnson feels that students who are unsure of declaring their sexuality should talk to their friends and family and be open about their fears of coming out.
National Coming Out Day has different meanings to various people. Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Adam Gonzales said it is a defining day for many people.
Gonzales is passionate about the day and encourages support for students who may have trouble coming out and for those who have already come out.
“Our campus has shown a lot of support for LGBTQ students recently,” Gonzales said. “It really goes beyond ethnicity, race and sexuality.”
Gonzales celebrated the day by allowing students to write down supportive messages on sticky notes for people who may be struggling with their sexuality.
“Anyway that we as fellow Bearcats and as a community can show support for these people who may be struggling to find out who they are, we are going to do it,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales plans to display the sticky notes throughout the Union as a way to give support to those who may not be directly looking for it.
Students wrote notes saying “We love you” and “You are you!” on colorful sticky notes in bold fonts and asked Gonzales questions about the LGBTQ community.
“I love National Coming Out Day,” freshman Jennice Myers said. “I think it’s a great way to welcome those who might need more acceptance in their lives.”
Myers believes that all students should be treated equally and that the LGBTQ community on campus needs more recognition.
“I think that we all deserve a chance at something no matter it be gay, straight, bi, black or white,” Myers said. “We are all people at the end of the day, and love will always be love, so embrace it.”