MU community celebrates coming out
The event allowed students to walk through and sign a Coming Out Door, an annual tradition.
Oct. 16, 2014
Even though National Coming Out Day was Oct. 11, the MU community celebrates all week long.
This year, the 11th was a Saturday, so Coming Out week was celebrated October 13-18. On Tuesday, the LGBTQ Resource Center hosted its annual event, “Out of the Closet, Into the Streets.”
The rainy weather prevented the event from being held in its original location, Lowry Mall. It was moved to the MU Student Center.
“Out of the Closet…” has many yearly traditions focused around coming out, the biggest of which is the symbolic “Coming Out Door,” a makeshift wooden door.
Attendees take turns walking through the door, which is a homemade frame. After walking through, they are invited to sign it. This symbolizes the coming out of the individual, in whatever incarnation that might be.
Junior Shelby Baseler, a staff member at the resource center, said she would urge students not to feel obligated to come out in the “traditional” sense. Many students may be in situations where it is unsafe to come out, and coming out may risk anything from their physical well-being to losing financial support from homophobic parents.
“You want to be safe, but also be yourself,” Baseler said. “You don’t have to come out, but it’s cool to know … you’re not alone.”
Struby Struble, the coordinator at the LGBTQ Resource Center, emphasized that while “Out of the Closet…” is fun and great publicity for the community itself, coming out is a lot more complicated than the event would suggest.
“It’s not as simple as a flourish out of a closet door,” she said. “There are a lot of decisions to make.”
Posters for attendees to write on are hung in the hallway outside the resource center to illustrate the process of coming out, as well as the diversity of the community.
Prompts such as “How do you identify?” and “What did you say when you came out?” stood alongside “Where on campus have you made out?” and “Where do you want to be taken on a first date?”
Freshman staff member Shelby Gronhoff discussed the significance of the resource center as she wrote on a poster.
“It’s really important on campus for there to be a safe place anyone (can) come to,” she said. “It’s a really amazing place.”
Posters filled up with responses quickly and soon became very colorful. Hashtags such as #IAlwaysWantedAGayDaughter and #GodBlessThisHotMess described attendees’ coming out experiences and mantras like “Love yourself loudly” gave advice to the campus as a whole.
“We never ask anyone to identify,” Struble said.
Instead, through events like “Out of the Closet, Into the Street,” the center celebrates everyone.