Unless you live under a rock, you most likely know that October 11 was Homecoming. What you may not know, however, was that October 11th was also National Coming Out Day. The LGBTQ+ Community uses the term ‘coming out’ to describe the action taken when one finds the courage to identify with a sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual physiology. National Coming Out Day honors this brave step and continues to push for a community where everyone will be accepted for who they are.
A common misconception about ‘coming out’ is that one identifies as gay or lesbian. In reality, a number of different identities exist. Pansexuality, asexuality, and demisexuality are forms of sexual orientation identification. Transgender, transsexuality, and bigender are gender identifications. The non-binary individuals of the LGBTQ+ community are not sexually dimorphic; they are neither male nor female. These, along with many other orientations and sexualities, are just some of the ways to identify when one comes out.
The Pride Alliance at IUP exists as a support group for those who identify within the LGBTQ+ Community. They meet every week to discuss coming out, a possible switch from LGBTQ+ to GSRM (Gender, Sexual and Romantic Minorities), or just to share stories amongst one another in a safe environment. Emily Sterner, a freshman in the Pride Alliance, shared what Pride means to her. “It means a lot to me to be able to enter a room where the people are like me. They have shared the same struggles in society and have experienced similar issues. I know that it’s a safe place where I can share my story and be confident with myself.”
If you are looking for a secure, judgement-free environment to share your experience or are interested in becoming an Ally, Pride could be the group for you. The Alliance meets every Thursday in the HUB Allegheny Room at 7pm. Other resources on campus are the LGBTQ Resource Room in Delany 327, the Counseling Center (724-357-2621), and the Safe Zone. PFLAG, HRC, and It Gets Better are also helpful websites for those who need information and support.