The LBGT community is making their message clear. “Come Out. Speak Out. Vote” is the theme of this year’s National Coming Out Day, which took place on October 11. Student organizations at MSU have collaborated in constructing a week-long calendar of events running October 7-15.[voice]
National Coming Out Day celebrates the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This year’s theme is meant to encourage LBGT people to not only “come out” but also to talk with friends and family about their sexuality. “It’s important for us to be heard because the rest of the year we’re
not,” second year grad student T.J. Jourian said. “We’re silenced because of who we are. This is one week out of the year we get to focus on us.”
On Saturday October 9, many students gathered for the Rainbow Rush Dance in the Union. The dance was instituted so that students could come together and hang out without worrying about stereotypes and the awkward feeling of being ‘different’. “It is a social outlet on campus that is safe and comfortable. There are no outings,” Allen Stock, a math education senior and vice president of RING (Respecting Individuals on Neutral Ground) said.
On Wednesday, some students participated in a public demonstration called Act Out in effort to teach people about the connection between hateful speech and hate crimes. Participants silently distributed literature to other students, drawing attention to the slurs and hate words on their clothing and the fake bruises and blood on their faces.
Cameron Venier, a psychology sophomore and president of PRIDE (People Respecting Individuality Diversity and Equality), expressed the importance of college students – the next generation – being heard, including those of the LBGT community. “We do have a voice,” Venier said.
The National Coming Out Day activities will come to an end with a LBGT Seminar Series in the Ohio State room of the MSU Union from 12-1 p.m. on Thursday. The Series, titled “Getting Bi: Bisexual Women’s Identity and Community at Michigan State University” is being presented by Julie E. Hartman, a doctoral student in feminist sociology. On Friday, the Coalition of LBGT Students will be walking in the Homecoming Parade at 6 p.m., starting at Abbot and Burcham.
Even participating in the parade spreads awareness to those outside the LBGT community. “It’s very important to educate causes and concerns of students so that they feel more comfortable to come out, and break down stereotypes.” Jared Leifeld, who is a part of the Student Affairs Administration, said. “The week is important because it puts a face on LBGT. That we are not just some people; we are the people on your dorm floor, in your classes, in the integral community.”
LBGT people are hopeful for a future that accepts them as they are, but they realize this loosening up of the public may take some time. For now, they are making efforts to educate the public and spread awareness on the negative effects of such things as stereotypes and hate crime, an important message around election time when the right to gay marriage is being tested.

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