Griffons were treated to Kona Ice at the Center for Multicultural Education’s Coming Out Day Celebration.
Following LGBT Solidarity Week, Missouri Western hosted a Coming Out Day Celebration on Oct. 9 in anticipation of the nationally recognized day of awareness on Oct. 11.
Each day leading up to the Coming Out Day celebration, Missouri Western held focus days, centering around different minority groups in the LGBTQ+ community. Those celebrated were Black people, disabled people, intersex people, Indigenous Americans and immigrants.
Senior Sonia Yang was one of this year’s attendees. She explains why an event like this is important not just Missouri Western’s LGBTQ+ population but for the entire community.
“People should be celebrated and shown love,” Yang said. “A huge experience for someone is coming out. It can be easier for people to come out to a group of people before their parents.”
National Coming Out Day has been a longstanding celebration in the LGBTQ+ community. It was started by human rights activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in an attempt to normalize discussing the topics of sexual orientation and gender and reduce stigma on the LGBTQ+ community.
Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate the occasion by coming out to their friends and family or to strangers on social media. Additionally, hundreds of colleges and universities host celebrations on their campuses. This year, Missouri Western has too joined the fight. Yang explains why university events like these are important to the lives of closeted LGBTQ+ students.
“The campus should embrace people’s individuality,” Yang said. “It’s not good when students are in the closet and cannot be themselves to the world.”
Coming Out Day was first celebrated one year after the Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, with the first being in 1979. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the march and called for increased federal funding for AIDS prevention, education, and research.
Beginning in 1978, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ community. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) a virus that attacks the immune system and affects its ability to fight infections. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the group of symptoms that is presented after HIV has significantly damaged the immune system. By Oct. 11, 1987, nearly 4,000 people had died from AIDS.
Additionally, attendees urged then current President Jimmy Carter to sign legislation amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, effectively banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. This goal was not fulfilled until a Supreme Court decision on June 15, 2020.