Coming Out Week went mostly unnoticed — that's a problem
ASU Coming Out Week comes to a conclusion tomorrow, and, unfortunately, its potential was not fully reached. While there was an event held on every campus, Polytechnic was the only one to hold more than one. We don’t mean to fault any one group for the meager display of pride compared to some other universities, but rather, we want to offer some ways in which we think the event could be improved, and clarify why we think it so important to do so.
First of all, holding Coming Out Week in October was a decision based on National Coming Out Day, which happens every year on Oct. 11. The power of Coming Out Day is eloquently put by the Human Rights Campaign: “When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.” Unfortunately, our Pride Week spanned from Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, which does not include the most crucial part and main influence of the week in the first place. A better option would have been to have Coming Out Day midweek like last year’s Pride Week did.
Although UA is ASU’s sworn rival, our community can learn a lot from its coordination of its own Coming Out Week. Its events have a long list of collaborators and sponsors such as ASUA Pride Alliance, Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Dean of Students Office and Associated Students for the University of Arizona, among many more. If the Sun Devil community could bring together groups like Residential Life, USG and the many minority-representative clubs on campus, Coming Out Week could vastly improve.
UA organizes a wide variety and large volume of events as well, with affairs like “resource fairs, workshops, speakers, films, Tucson Pride and AIDSWalk.” In making its events ingrained with both the city of Tucson and the university as a whole, UA takes great strides toward moving LGBTQ issues to the forefront of acceptance. Instead of holding a singular event in the basement of the Memorial Union, as Tempe campus did, UA spread its various events across the entire campus through interesting methods. ASU is already better than UA at everything else; we might as well start being better at properly celebrating Coming Out Week.
We could also look to the example set by Pennsylvania State University, which began its Coming Out Week by making a prominent building on campus something of a headquarters for activities while also managing to have Laverne Cox, the transgender TV star of “Orange is the New Black,” speak for the Nittany Lions.
Maybe we won’t get to that high of a bar next year, but it is important that we make a push toward progress in this week of celebration. Making the LGBTQ members of the Sun Devil community feel comfortable and welcome is a crucial aspect of creating an inclusive college community. Pride Week gives us a sterling opportunity to do just that, and in the future, we would like to see a more comprehensive, collaborative effort.
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