Coming Out on the Quad

Coming+Out+on+the+Quad

Jessica Bayer, Assistant Editor for Features

On Oct. 7 a group of UIS students, staff, and community members dressed in colorful t-shirts bearing the acronym “P.R.I.D.E.” (People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality) gathered in front of the colonnade for the sixth annual Closet Door on the Quad event to celebrate National Coming Out Day.

According to Kerry Poynter, interim executive director of the Diversity Center, this is the tenth year that the door has actually been placed on the Quad at this time of the year. Prior to there being an actual Closet Door on the Quad event, students have placed the door on the Quad to decorate and symbolize coming out.

Even though National Coming Out Day is not until Oct. 11, the event takes place around this date each year in order to allow the LGBTQA community to come together as one and show support for one another. This year marks the 27th anniversary of National Coming Out Day.

Similar to previous years, there was a stage set up that had black curtain serving as a backdrop. On these black curtains hung two rainbow flags, each of which boldly popped off the dark background. Between these two curtains, at the back of the stage, was a bright green door that could not be missed.

Prior to the start of the event, individuals were welcomed onto the stage to decorate the door with sharpies and spray paint. Individuals could write their name, a saying, or whatever they felt like sharing. Some things that were written read “All you need is love” and “Love is love.” After the event, the door was transported back to the LGBTQA Resource Office to be displayed.

Once the event began, Mike Fanucce, interim coordinator of the LGBTQA Resource Office and resident director, began by saying that “each year we celebrate coming out as LGBTQ or an ally, whether it’s the first time ever or the first time that day.”

He then invited all LGBTQ individuals to take the stage and share their coming out or personal stories in a safe and supportive environment. He also invited allies to come up and show their support for the community.

The first to take the stage was Chancellor Susan Koch. “I am here today to show support for my LGBTQ colleagues, friends, family members, and most importantly, students,” said Koch. “I started college in 1967, and one of the main reasons that I am an ally [to the LGBTQ community] is because I don’t ever want to go back to 1967.”

Throughout the event, individuals walked through the decorated, bright green closet door and shared stories that had a variety of different endings. Some individuals talked about the hardships they faced while they were in the process of coming out, while others explained all of the support they received from those around them.

There were many tears, laughs, hugs, and a lot of love flowing off of that stage during the two-hour event.

Numerous faculty members, including Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, associate professor of theater, and employees at the Health Services Office also showed their support for the LGBTQ community by stepping on the stage and declaring themselves allies.

The Closet Door on the Quad event is one of the many events planned for this year’s Queertober. For a full list of events, please visit the LGBTQA Resource Office’s webpage at www.uis.edu/LGBTQA.