MU Students Discuss Politics Surrounding Coming Out
COLUMBIA - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students gathered in Memorial Union to talk about the cultural and political pressure to publicly claim their identities. Many shared their stories about the difficulties of coming out. Monday marked the 15th Anniversary for MU's LGBTQ Resource Center, and the beginning of Coming Out Week.
Co-Facilitator of InsideOUT Sean Jarvis, said the purpose of the talk was to touch on issues regarding, "political dynamics surrounding that (coming out) influence people's decision whether or not to come out, their decision of the way they choose to come out, their decision whether or not to come out at all. There's an importance placed on the idea of coming out and being proud of claiming their identity."
The discussion Monday night was based around the idea of coming out as being a form of activism. About 20 students participated in the talk.
"I think there's a lot of political pressure that's splitting homosexuality in general. That is forcing homosexual youths to not want to come out, because they see this political pressure of anti-gay, so it's scary for youth to come out," MU Freshman Francesca Pelusi said.
InsideOUT is a program that seeks to provide a forum and safe place for conversation for issues affecting LGBTQ individuals, and sponsored Monday's discussion.
"Seeing so many other people that are like me and share the same ideas that I do, as a whole, that's really what I take away from it," Pelusi said.
Jarvis said he's noticed a change over the years of people engaging in the LGBTQ Resource Center.
"For the most part, we're seeing people coming out at younger ages, and we're seeing people come out in more public ways," Jarvis explained.
Jarvis says that coming out is different than it used to be, "technical advancements like the internet, the rise of social media has definitely changed the dynamics that people are facing in the process of coming out."
More people are coming out by updating their Facebook profile, which Jarvis said can be just as significant.
Though the talk was scheduled on National Coming Out Day, Pelusi said, "There are other people struggling with things like coming out, and coming out is not just a one day thing, it's a process. It's just great overall to have support and see people that know exactly what I'm going through."
Coming Out Week will also feature a program about Homophobia in Women's Sports, tips on coming out in the workplace and a discussion about coming out as transgender/genderfluid.