Students rally at Coffman Union for National Coming Out Week

Various queer groups passed out information and sexual protection.

by Anna Weggel

As graduate nursing student Nathan Tylutki walked through a lavender door frame in front of Coffman Union, he proclaimed that yes, he is still gay.

To celebrate National Coming Out Week, Tylutki and other students, along with the Queer Student Cultural Center, rallied in front of Coffman Union on Monday.

At the rally, various queer organizations passed out information and condoms to students in passing.

People were also encouraged to walk through a lavender door frame with a rainbow-colored arrow painted on the door. The event symbolized “coming out of the closet,” said Emily Souza, QSCC co-chairwoman. This is a ritual announcing different sexual preferences.

Although Tylutki had already come out, he said, his walk through the door was a reaffirmation.

“There’s a supportive group here today,” Tylutki said. “It’s a great event for queer people all over.”

Souza said the organization was created to teach the campus community about queer issues and empower queer students on campus.

“We are here as a safe space for students to be themselves in a nonjudgmental environment,” she said.

Souza said QSCC has been celebrating National Coming Out Week for more than 10 years. Approximately 100 people visit the event annually, with approximately 25 to 30 people who walk through the lavender door, she said.

Human sexuality senior Tracy Drumm talked to students who passed the “Shaggin’ Wagon,” a vehicle used to talk about sexual-health issues at the event.

Drumm said involving the vehicle in National Coming Out Week is important.

“It’s really good to promote awareness,” she said.

QSCC volunteer Aaron Quick said the event is less of a rally and more of a support system.

Declaring sexuality to the public is very difficult, he said, so it is important to surround yourself with understanding people when making the public statement.

“We don’t expect people to jump through the door for their first time, but it’s just the fact that we have a presence here,” Quick said.

Although many people who walk through the door have already announced their sexualities, the event is still beneficial, Souza said.

“It’s a good way to reaffirm your identity – find a sense of community out there,” She said. “Every student can come through that door and come out as supportive or whoever they are.”

While most students who walk through the door announce they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, heterosexual students have also participated, Souza said.

“(Last year) a number of students came out as straight,” she said. “It’s people being able to say, ‘Yes, that’s who I am.’ “

Professional student Daniel Kronemann didn’t walk through the lavender door, because, he jokingly said, he was afraid it would fall down. Yet, he said, he believes National Coming Out Week is a good idea.

“It’s a week that’s designated to reflect on our own stories and journeys of coming out,” he said. “It gives (students) an opportunity to see people like them and that they can be happy.”

Kronemann said that before he announced he was gay, similar rallies scared him but also encouraged him to think about coming out.

“It shows that (coming out) is traumatic, but that there’s something on the other side,” he said.