GSA celebrates 35 years of National Coming Out Day with booth

By KERRIGAN HUTTON
Tiger Media Network

Last Wednesday was the 35th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. To celebrate, Fort Hays State’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance hosted a table outside of the Memorial Union where students and faculty could pose in front of a bright rainbow door to show their support. 

GSA also gave out free t-shirts with the phrase “love is love” printed in the Transgender flag colors. 

The “big gay door” as GSA members called it, is to symbolize the act of coming out of the closet, an act many LGBTQ+ people have to do when revealing their sexuality or gender identity. 

GSA member Orpheus Dixon-Phillips talked about why the door is important to everyone, especially those who have not come out yet.

“It’s a great symbol, even if you don’t take your picture in front of the door because it shows that if you’re still in there, you still can shine through,” Dixon-Phillips said. 

National Coming Out Day was first celebrated in 1988 when LGBTQ+ activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary chose the early October date to honor the first anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, a groundbreaking event in LGBTQ history. 

Now over three decades later, GSA members say the day is still as important as ever.

GSA treasurer Teilee Brunson-Williams said they feel conflicted about how LGBTQ+ issues are acknowledged on campus.

“A lot of times it can get frustrating to explain things constantly and justify but I haven’t personally experienced outright hatred just a lot more ignorance,” Brunson-Williams said. 

Brunson-Williams noted that because of this, they are really grateful for GSA.

“It can be frustrating at times but it’s really nice to have the GSA because it’s just this little community to be as authentic to yourself as possible without having to explain or justify why you are (or want to be) yourself,” they said. “It’s not bad, but it’s not great.”

Dixon-Phillips also gave their thoughts on what people who want to support GSA but don’t know where to start should do.

“But if you are cis, straight, or are an ally and you just want to know how to help, vote. Right now there is [a] bunch of legislation trying to be put through to hurt people like us and using your voice, voting, making sure that you’re protecting the queer people in your life is really how you be a good ally,” they said.

More information about GSA and its future events can be found on its TigerLink page.

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