Students come out to Closet Door on the Quad: 99 reasons to support LGBTQ community

Students+come+out+to+Closet+Door+on+the+Quad%3A+99+reasons+to+support+LGBTQ+community

A crowd of students, faculty, and community members gathered together to show support for the LGBTQ community at the annual Closet Door on the Quad.

The event provided the UIS community with a safe, supportive environment to share their coming out stories and speak up about being an ally for the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQA Resource Office Director Kerry Poynter said the Closet Door on the Quad event celebrates National Coming out Day, which takes place Oct. 11.

National Coming out Day has been celebrated for the past 25 years and is used to commemorate the 1987 National March on Washington for LGBTQ equality. The LGBTQ community began to feel that after the march took place, individuals forgot about the community and unity that was built during the march. Thus, National Coming out Day was established to keep that unity alive.

The LGBTQA Resource Office has offered students, teachers, administrators, queers and allies the Closet Door on the Quad in order to share their coming out stories or to speak up for the LGBTQ community for over five years.

“I like the fact that students and people at UIS are standing on the Quad and telling their stories in a very public manner,” said Poynter. “I got the impression the first year that I was involved in this that this was something unique.”

Numerous individuals stepped through the door and spoke to the crowd of people that gathered. The speeches ranged from coming out stories, to allies supporting the cause, and much more. The individuals were then asked to sign the door.

Throughout the duration of the event, Summer Osborne took the stage with her empowering music. She was the entertainment last year and was brought back because she enjoyed the event and so many students enjoyed her performance.

The Closet Door on the Quad not only offered individuals a place to tell their story, but it allowed allies a place to really reflect and see why they are involved in this cause.

“It gives allies an opportunity to sit down and think ‘why am I an ally’. Someone might be supportive of the LGBTQ community but never have actually put thought into why,” said Alex Williams, senior sociology anthropology major.

Each year, the Closet Door on the Quad event has expanded and drawn in an even larger crowd than the year before.

“The first time I did this, I only came out to 5 or 6 people. Now, I tell my story in front of a couple hundred,” said Williams.

Numerous groups from both on-campus and off-campus organizations, such as the Phoenix Center, Health Services, and UIS Queer-Straight Alliance, surrounded the stage with their tables, showing their support.

In previous years, individuals are invited to pick up a T-shirt in the weeks prior to the Closet Door event to wear and show their support for the LGBTQ community. The logo on the shirts are voted on by students each year.

This year’s shirt read, “I got 99 problems and society’s attitude towards sexual orientation and gender identity covers like 98 of them.”

As students picked up this year’s shirt, they were asked to fill out a form about what they think one of the 98 problems was surrounding sexual orientation and identity. All responses were kept anonymous and are available online at go.uis.edu/99problems.

“We still have issues with acceptance and understanding. Regardless of personal or religious beliefs, everyone deserves equality,” said an anonymous student contributor.