Allies and members of the LGBT community gathered to celebrate and empower one another during the National Coming Out Day: Our Stories event organized by the Multicultural Center on Monday night.
“Thank you so much for coming out, literally and figuratively,” said Eli Johnson, LGBTQ Student Program Assistant at the OSU Office of Student Life’s Multicultural Center, addressing a crowd of about 50 people at the US Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union.
The event occurred the night before the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which first began during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1988.
The holiday occurs on Oct. 11 every year and celebrates the LGBT community, specifically individuals openly identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or another sexual identity for the first time.
While all of the nine LGBTQ and ally individuals who took the stage to share their personal coming out stories felt comfortable speaking about their experiences, this was not always the case.
“Given my presentation, when I came out as an LGBTQ person it wasn’t shocking, it was actually something I got bullied for a lot of my life,” said Logan Sherman, a fourth-year in women’s gender and sexuality studies.
Lisanne Ball, a third-year in psychology and women’s gender and sexuality studies, said that for many members of the LGBT community, coming out is not a one time occurrence, but rather it happens daily.
“Coming out happens every day in a million ways in a million different people doing it, but it’s part of your story, it’s unique to you. It’s your experience and no matter how big or how small that moment is, it’s part of you and that’s what counts,” Ball said to the audience.
The importance of respecting gender-neutral pronouns was also discussed.
“My pronouns are ‘they’ and ‘them’ and ‘theirs’ because there are countless dimensions of who I am and I want each part to have a chance to speak,” Sherman said.
Johnson, who helped to coordinate the event, acknowledged that for many who are just coming out and embracing their true self, it can sometimes be difficult to find support. However, Johnson said they wanted individuals to know that there is a big and welcoming LGBT community at Ohio State.
“Not only are there resources, but there are people to meet and say that you can have ‘chosen family,’” Johnson told The Lantern.
For those individuals whose families struggled with or rejected the idea of their child coming out, a chosen family is made up of friends and family who are supportive of the individual.
To end the evening, Ball took a moment to address the audience.
“By being here and supporting all of us and by being your authentic selves every day, you’re doing a lot. You’re doing a lot for yourself and you’re doing a lot for your community and just keep being you, it’s the most you can do,” she said.