National Coming Out Day shows support for LGBTQI students at WKU

Melissa Hardesty

In honor of National Coming Out Day, the WKU Counseling and Testing Center set up a table in the Downing University Center in support of the day, offering information to straight and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) students.

Around 20 people stopped by in the two hours the table was set up, which is a good turnout compared to last year, said Eric Manley, from the Testing and Counseling Center. This year is the center’s fourth year of having the info table, and Manley said they hope students continue to gain interest in issues involving the LGBTQI community.

Manley said he hopes to eventually coordinate with different campus organizations to sponsor a larger campus event.

Pamphlets given out at the table are full of information on a range of topics, including coming out, supporting a friend or family member who recently came out, and suicide prevention.

While National Coming Out Day encourages closeted students to come out, Manley said the community realizes that it may not be the day for everyone.

The Counseling and Testing Center, Student Identity Outreach and Manley want students to know that they have support and a community to be involved in when the time is right, he said, adding that they want to raise awareness and recruit allies among the straight community, and fill gaps in information for gay students.

Bowling Green native Jordan Currie, president of GSA at Gatton Academy, stopped by the table to get more information about possible events for Ally Week, which will take place next week.

Last year, Gatton’s GSA hosted a viewing of the film “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which addresses conflicts between homosexuality and religion, and discussion afterward, Currie said. Some students had an issue with the event and there were problems between students with opposing viewpoints. Currie hopes this year’s events will run more smoothly.

Dennis Cain, who works in Parking and Transportation Services at WKU, also stopped by the table to show his support. Cain and his partner have lived in Bowling Green for many years and despite being “as out as any two people can be,” Cain said he and his partner have never dealt with any negative comments or attitudes toward their lifestyle.

Manley and Cain both agree that young people in the gay and lesbian community “can’t fully grasp” the type of intolerance faced by previous generations.

Cain said he believes events involving the entire gay community in Bowling Green are hard to organize because older members of the community are busy with their day-to-day lives and younger members don’t always understand how important activism is to the cause.

There are many ways for students to get involved on campus, though. Every Monday night, SIO meets in Tate Page Hall. To get more information about the organization, contact Molly Kerby, the faculty advisor for the group.

Manley also leads a gay and lesbian support group on Thursday at 4 p.m. in room 400 of the Potter College building. There is no obligation to come back if the group is not for you, but it is open to everyone.