National Coming Out Day is Sunday, October 11, providing LGBTQ+ individuals an avenue to openly express their identity in a supportive environment.
Illinois State University’s registered student organization Pride is celebrating the day with video messages and care packages for students who choose to come out as LGBTQ+.
“Coming out is something that all LGBTQ+ folks have to deal with at some point because we live in a heteronormative society where the default expectation is that you are a straight, cisgender person, unless you voice otherwise,” said Emily Patterson, a senior English major with a queer studies concentration and president of Pride.
For decades, ISU Pride students have set up a table on the Quad to honor Coming Out Day. This year the pandemic sidelined those plans. Instead, the group will post a video on October 11 on the Pride social media sites. The video will be filled with positive messages from campus and community members for those coming out. Pride students who signed up will also receive a care package with written notes, buttons, and other items. “The package is filled with things we would have given away on the Quad,” said Patterson.
Pride Advisor Kwame Patterson cheered the students’ innovative efforts. “The work Pride does is important to helping folks feel they belong on campus,” he said. “I’m happy those in Pride were able to put their hands together and make this happen.”
Providing students with reaffirming messages honors the courage it takes to make the decision to come out, . “It takes a lot of bravery and a lot of self-evaluation to come out,” she said. “This is a day we want to celebrate our folks who have had the courage to come out and speak their truth—to say who they are to themselves, their loved ones, and the world.
She added the day is also a time to acknowledge those who are not able to come out. “It could be that they are not ready. It could be that coming out makes it dangerous for them,” said Patterson. “This is a day to celebrate everyone where they are in the process.”
As an LGBTQ+ ally, Kwame Patterson said part of his role is to remind students that coming out is a very personal endeavor. “Coming out is not a one-time thing. It is continuous,” he said. “Those who wish to be allies need to respect where each person is on their path.”
Emily Patterson agreed. “There is no right time to come out. There is no wrong time. It is never too early. It is never too late.”
The Pride video can be found on the following sites on October 11:
Redbird Life: https://redbirdlife.illinoisstate.edu/organization/pride
Facebook: @isupride https://www.facebook.com/isupride
Twitter: @ilstu_pride https://twitter.com/ilstu_pride
Instagram: @isupride https://www.instagram.com/isupride/
Those wishing to provide support for ISU students in need can explore the LGBTQ+ Student Support Endowment.