National Coming Out Day Event at U

On Oct. 11, 1990, one-half million people marched on Washington, D.C., to tell the world they were coming out.

Now, in commemoration of that march, Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day.

To celebrate, the Lesbian and Gay Student Union hosted a panel discussion. Although intended to educate community members and give them the opportunity to ask questions, very few attended.

Arlyn Bradshaw, LGSU co president, spoke about the questions he has received at the table the LGSU set up outside the Union.

Many people asked him why gays have pride events, because they felt it separated the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.

?It made me ponder if we were approaching it in a divisive way, but then I came to the conclusion that we were right,? Bradshaw said. ?One on-one education may be the best way, but many people will never meet a gay person. They still need to be educated.?

Other panelists agreed, but expressed other reasons for pride days.

?If we didn?t have pride days and Coming Out Day, it would be a lie to ourselves,? said Cristi Heinmiller, LGSU member.

?Even though it?s not the day I came out, it?s like an anniversary for me,? said Don Decker, LGSU co-president.

This year, national organizations have toned down celebrations because of the Sept. 11 attacks, Bradshaw said.

The panelists also discussed the costs and benefits of coming out.

?I?m in the modern dance department, and so it?s not as hard as other places. But there are a few people that still give you dirty looks, especially if you?re openly gay,? Decker said. ?The benefit of coming out is it completely lets you be OK with a lot of things. You aren?t as moody and depressed, you can be friendly and happy more easily.?

?I have lost a lot of credibility,? Heinmiller said. ?I can be a jerk with political correctness because I?m open in my classes, but people often don?t listen to what I have to say.?

?I have the unique perspective of being part of a repressed minority,? Bradshaw said. ?The biggest cost comes in interpersonal relationships. The members of my family can?t see eye to eye on the small issue of sexuality. I always say ?I can take on the world, but not my mother.??

?I am the patriarchy, I?m a straight, white male,? said Marty Liccardo, a panelist. ?It?s been hard to stand up and tell people I disagree with them when they make negative remarks about the LGBT community.?

One of the hardest struggles of the LGBT community is not being seen as a valid minority, Bradshaw said.

?The Greek community in Utah is allowed to have the Greek Festival, but people are against Pride Day and marches,? he said.

Mike Alcott, LGSU adviser, talked about what it meant to be gay in Utah. He quoted Shakespeare?s ?Hamlet,? saying, ??Put money in thy purse.?

?You have to be discreet about your sexuality, and money is the only thing that protects you,? Alcott said. ?I can live comfortably because I have my degrees and a good job.?

He addressed every student on campus who has come out.

?Every one of you has my huge love and support,? he said.

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