WKU students celebrate National Coming Out Day

Freshmen Sarah Stout (left) and David Hormell look up in laughter as a passerby acknowledges their decorative efforts. They colored coloring pages depicting vaginas at the Toppers Uniting for Feminism booth during the National Coming Out Day party, held in the Housing and Residence Life building on Saturday. The celebration, hosted by Student Identity Outreach, was held to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community on campus and included information booths from different on-campus organizations, food and free contraceptives. Alyssa Pointer/HERALD

Lashana Harney

National Coming Out Day is a day dedicated to celebrate the courage of the LGBTQ community, but for some people, such as Chicago freshman Erick Murrer, it is a day representing closure and a way to move forward in his life.

“This day means a milestone that we’re coming towards in America of how we view the LGBTQ community, which has been repressed for so long,” Murrer said.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated on Oct. 11 to recognize and celebrate members of the LGBTQ community who publicly reveal their sexuality and raise awareness for the community as a whole. 

WKU’s Student Identity Outreach hosted a National Coming Out Day celebration on Saturday.

Various bouquets of colored balloons led the pathway to the Housing and Residence Life conference room where students were found celebrating National Coming Out Day.

 Songs from the show “SpongeBob Squarepants” played in the background as students dined on rainbow Skittles and spoke about what the day means to them.

Murrer, a bisexual, said this event was a way to bring closure to the hardship he has been experiencing from recently coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community to friends and family.

“I grew up in a religious family that did not accept this as a legitimate expression of love,” Murrer said. “So, I repressed it in my years of middle school and high school.”

It wasn’t until this year’s MASTER Plan that Murrer said he gained the courage to come to terms with his sexuality.

“I couldn’t pretend to be something I wasn’t,” he said.

Murrer said he attended a diversity MASTER Plan event where the host asked LGBTQ students to stand.

“It was in that moment that I realized I identified that way and that I could finally be open about myself,” he said.

Murrer said although he only stood with one other person, he still had the courage to come out to friends and family over the following months.

Murrer said coming to terms with his sexuality wasn’t something that just occurred overnight.

“I don’t look at being a member of the LGBTQ community with shame,” said Murrer. “I am proud of who I am and going forward, I am never going to hide that part of myself.”

Over 50 people came to the event.

Glasgow junior and SIO Co-President Justin Crenshaw said this event was meant to be special in order to honor and celebrate the achievements of people who have came out.

He said past events have included poetry readings, movie showings and guest speakers. Crenshaw said he did not expect so many people to come to the event due to the rainy weather conditions.

“It blew my expectations out of the water,” Crenshaw said.

Multiple booths were set up to offer information about organizations that support the LGBTQ community such as the Bowling Green Fairness Coalition and Toppers Uniting For Feminism. SIO had brochures on tips for coming out and tips for allies to the LGBTQ community.

Associate professor of history Patti Minter said setting up a Bowling Green Fairness Coalition booth seemed like a natural fit during the National Coming Out Day celebration. The coalition advocates for protecting members of the LGBTQ community in the workplace.

“As a straight ally and a member of the faculty, I think it’s equally as important to be here and show my support for people who are coming out and to let our students and community know that we’re here and we’re working to make sure that there is a legal framework to have equal justice under law,”  Minter said.

Murrer said organizations that support the LGBTQ community are helpful during the process of coming out because people who supported his decisions surrounded him.

However, Murrer said he has met many people who haven’t openly expressed their sexual identity who do not want to join these organizations because they believe people will think differently of them.

“There still needs to be more social acceptance that needs to take place at home before individuals can identify openly on a college campus,” he said. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction, having these groups.”

Those who are considering coming out should know that there is support, Murrer said.

“It might not be from your family or your direct group of friends but there are people out there that will love you for who you are,” he said.

Murrer said National Coming Out Day was also a way to let the world know that his sexuality is not the only thing that defines him.

“I have dreams; I have goals; I have aspirations,” he said. “I am a person before I am my sexuality. I am a human. When we realize that we are all humans, and we all want the same things as love, food, clothing, shelter, it puts things into perspective that we are not only defined by our sexuality, but so much more than just that.”