Door helps

Amy Olson

For Paul Halacy, acknowledging his homosexuality meant getting cut off financially by his parents.
But the former University student, who made the metaphorical emergence from “the closet” Thursday at the Spring Pride Coming Out Door event, said the struggle has been worth being honest about who he is.
“It’s not easy coming out, but I’m a lot healthier physically and emotionally,” Halacy said. Before Halacy came out, he had migraine headaches twice a week. Now he gets them once every six months.
“Just be yourself,” Halacy said. “It’s better than living a lie.”
About 30 people “came out of the closet” by walking through the lavender fake closet door on Coffman Plaza. Co-sponsored by the Queer Student Cultural Center and Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education, the coming-out door is a symbolic gesture for homosexuals to acknowledge their sexual orientations. The event was part of the second annual two-week long Spring Pride celebration.
Coming out can be a powerful experience, said Megan Thomas, Queer Student Cultural Center administrative coordinator.
“It’s a symbolic event,” Thomas said. “Some people wait to come out until they walk through the door.”
In the fall, 72 people at the University came out in one hour on National Coming Out Day.
Halacy officially came out in October, but wanted to experience the symbolism of actually walking through the doorway.
While many people choose to acknowledge their sexual orientations during public celebrations, some describe coming out as a process, not just a single event.
“Walking through the door is symbolic,” said Julie Golla, an Institute of Technology junior. “But it also oversimplifies coming out. It’s a process that occurs day-to-day, not just a one-time event.”
SHADE coordinator Andy Gehrz agreed. Gehrz is a third-year student designing her own major in human sexuality, cultural and identity politics and sexuality in the family.
“It’s not one big event; it’s on-going,” Gehrz said. “Each day you meet someone, you have to make the decision about what to tell them and if you should come out to them.”
Queer Student Cultural Center co-chair Matt Strickler said he was happy with the turnout, even though it wasn’t as high as on National Coming Out Day, which is on Oct. 11.
“It’s always hard to organize events on campus to get a large turnout because it’s a commuter campus,” Strickler said.
Even though fewer walked through the door, Halacy said the event was powerful.
“I watched the strength it took to walk through the door last fall before I was out, and it gave me the courage to come out,” Halacy said. “Maybe some of the people watching today will find the courage after watching us.”