by Brittany #Rees
Tears were shed at Thursday night’s #Coming Out Day celebration put on by Pride!#Kent. The successful event lasted four hours, causing directors to turn people away from speaking when the meeting concluded at midnight.
The Coming Out Day congregation took the place of #Pride!Kent’s usual Thursday meetings in Bowman Hall. The organization played host to around 40 members of the GSM community and their allies.
The event began lightheartedly at 8 p.m. Pride! divided the event-goers into three sections and shepherded them around Bowman to different Coming Out Day stations. They updated their banner, provided snacks and ice breaker activities, and retold the history of National Coming Out Day.
Once everyone was settled in, Pride!Kent’s secretary Whitney Robinson talked the group through Coming Out Day procedure.
“This is a safe space,” Robinson told the room. “You can share any story: good, bad or ugly.”
The audience was encouraged to come onstage and walk through the “coming out door” that was created for the event. On the door, people wrote their coming out stories or shared their advice for Pride! posterity. Next, volunteers on stage were able to address the crowd and relay their experiences.
Pride! handed out tissues to audience members to wipe away the anticipated tears.
“I had to leave last year because I was sobbing,” Robinson warned.
Members gathered to tell tales of coming out day laughter, violence and loss and were met with applause and embraces.
Roxie Patton, program coordinator at the LGBTQ center on campus, told her story for the first time.
“I’m from a different generation. Things were different,” Patton said. “My mother told me sex was when people get naked and hug each other, but only do it once you’re married.”
Patton, who didn’t come out until adulthood, opened up.
“I know I’m the maternal one but you really are my family.”
After Patton spoke, more than ten people took the stage. Pride!Kent had to turn people away from walking through the door but offered to spend next Thursday’s regular meeting continuing coming out stories.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated every October 11th in honor of the historic March on Washington for gay rights. For over 30 years, GSM members and allies have been gathering in support and solidarity for each other.
“It warms my heart to know that even though we’ve been through some really rough shit, we have a support system right here.” Patton said.
Check out the rest of the month’s events on our calendar and our exclusive interview with Roxie Patton.