K-State LGBT and Allies host Coming Out Day event

Goutham Neravetla, freshmen in computer science and biology, writes a message on a rainbow-painted door in Bosco Plaza on Oct. 12, 2015. The door stood as a place for students to share their coming out stories in celebration of National Coming Out Day, which was on Oct. 11, 2015. (George Walker | The Collegian)

K-State LGBT and Allies hosted a National Coming Out Day event in Bosco Student Plaza Monday. Students gathered around a rainbow-colored door and a table covered in LGBT buttons, keychains and pamphlets.

National Coming Out Day, an annual civil awareness day, celebrated those who have come out as LGBT individuals, and it supported and encouraged people who may be considering coming out. Attendees could talk to members of the LGBT community, share coming out stories, take a picture with the rainbow-colored “Coming Out” door and write words of encouragement and support on the door.

One such individual was Emelia, a sophomore in education in her first year at K-State. Emelia is questioning her sexuality, and due to the private nature of such matters, requested that her last name be withheld from publishing.

“I’ve been questioning for awhile, and was considering looking into the LGBT community on campus trying to find somewhere to fit in,” Emelia said. “So, when I walked out of the Union and saw the rainbow door, it was kind of a nice surprise.”

Emelia talked to some of the students putting on the event and posed for a picture in front of the door with another student.

According to Jerry Sextro, sophomore in open option and one of the organizers for the event, students may have found it difficult to stumble upon these festivities prior to 2015. This is the first year the K-State LGBT and Allies celebrated Coming Out Day in a public space.

“We wanted it to be more public,” Sextro said. “We wanted to try to build more of a presence here on campus.”

Multiple campus tours passed through Bosco Student Plaza during the event, which was something Sextro said he looked at positively.

“I hope it gives them a good impression,” Sextro said. “Many students coming to K-State might be more on the conservative side, and if they’re an LGBTQ individual they might have difficulty coming out and being themselves. I hope that events like this let them know that they’ll have a place to be loved.”

Kevin Stilley, K-State alum, also attended the event. He said these events and the community on campus have grown.

“When I was a student in the 70s, we didn’t even have an LGBT group on campus,” Stilley said. “But now, it’s like a snowball. These events draw in more people who help make it bigger each year.”

Response to the event was “surprisingly positive,” according to Sextro.

“Some people can be sensitive about stuff like this, but so far, no one’s complained or reacted negatively to what we’re doing here today,” Sextro said.

Mariya Vaughan, K-State LGBT and Allies adviser, also said there was a “very positive” response.

“It can sometimes be difficult to get people to stop by (at the event),” Vaughan said. “They’re trying to get lunch or they have busy schedules, but the main purpose of this is to engage with people.”

The Coming Out Day celebration, Vaughan said, “shows that we’re here, and that we’re welcoming.”

Vaughan said that the Coming Out Day event served as a reminder of the LGBT and Allies’ presence on campus.

“It’s good to show students that there’s an LGBT presence on campus, for the students that have come out, are thinking about coming out, or even straight students who have come out or might want to come out as LGBT allies,” Vaughan said. “Students looking for a safe place will know that K-State has it.”