The Augustana GSA Presents: Coming Out Day Open Mic Night



October 11th, 2017 marks the 29th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. Those who are aware of this day celebrate the act of "coming out of the closet" as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, as an ally, or so on. Some people choose to come out on social media to strangers and fans, to their friends, to their colleagues, or to their families.

The LGBT+ spectrum is full of various identities and sexual orientations, but coming out as something other than straight and cisgendered sometimes freaks people out. The reason Coming Out Day exists is because we often assume that the people in our lives are straight and cisgendered unless otherwise specified.

The person who is coming out may feel worried, afraid, and even guilty if they have thoughts of coming out to someone. It is emotionally difficult when coming out to family members, and even more so when the person still lives with their immediate family. Being "outed" is another risk. The act of "outing" someone means that someone who knows a person identifies as LGBT+ reveals this to other people without asking for that person’s permission. Many people who come out, or have been outed, face an increased risk of abuse, assault, or old-fashioned in-school/workplace bullying (teasing, vandalism, theft or destruction of property).

National Coming Out Day honors those who has come out as LGBT+ or as a straight ally by recognizing their courageousness when it comes to advocating for equality and accepting themselves for who they are as individuals. Coming out pushes away the silence and ignorance about LGBT+ issues and reminds people that they may have loved ones who are LGBT+. Ignoring these issues and people creates an outright ignorant atmosphere, and Coming Out Day attempts to squash such an atmosphere by reminding the world of LGBT+ people and increasing their visibility.

Augustana College’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance is preparing for their own Coming Out Day event. Open Mic Night will take place on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 6pm in Wallenberg Hall. The group will accept donations for local non-profits and provide snacks, beverages, and a focus on expressing oneself. They will have coloring pages and supplies in an attempt to create a relaxing atmosphere for friends and strangers to gather around and celebrate each other's identities. They not only advocate for coming out as allies or LGBT+ community members, but also for coming out as an artist, a poet, a musician, or some other form of self-expression. GSA invites students to bring artwork for an "open house style" presentation and to perform on stage for a sort of "open mic night." Performers may sing, recite poetry, play an instrument, give a speech, rant, perform comedy, etc. There will even be a drawing for two prizes: a stuffed unicorn Pillow Pet and a Whitey's Ice Cream gift card! The event is for students, by students, and offers an open and safe environment for all styles of self-expression. Educate yourself on the idea of National Coming Out Day, tell your friends, then bring them along to the GSA’s Coming Out Day event.

To learn more about National Coming Out Day, visit the Human Rights Campaign's website here.