LGBTQ students celebrate National Coming Out day

By Julio Sanchez

The Dream Resource Center and East Los Angeles College’s Safe Zone Coalition hosted National Coming Out Day by presenting students with activities and opportunities to express themselves without fear of judgement.

National Coming Out Day is held on Oct.11 as an annual civil awareness day in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Queer community and its civil rights movement. National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 by Jean O’Leary and Robert Eichberg.

It is celebrated every Oct.11 because it is the anniversary date of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987.

Jacia Cortez, a student-worker in the Dream Resource Center, planned and organized the event to raise awareness of National Coming Out Day and what it represents to the ELAC community.

Cortez, who identifies  as a lesbian, came out when she was 19 years old and her foster family who she was living with at the time decided to kick her out not long after.

“People who come out lose family and friends and it is so hard to figure out because you’re still figuring yourself out,” Cortez said.

The event also offered to those that attended free snacks and beverages as well as a card that gives the individual a chance to express who or what they identify themselves as. There were students and faculty that attended the event carried cards that read “I’m gay,” I’m a lesbian,” “I’m trans” and “I’m an ally.”

Fernando Mejia, a History and Social Science instructor, attended and participated in the event by holding up a card that read “I’m gay.”

Mejia said he moved to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a teenage and in his 20s decided to openly come out as a gay man.

Mejia said that he is open about his sexual orientation with his students. “Yes. I always introduce myself and I let the students know who I am,” Mejia said.

Student Brenda Ayala was also part of the event and she was holding a card that read “I’m an ally.”

“It makes me happy to be an ally and to be able to support who I can,” Ayala said.

The event also had a giant poster on the wall with questions that read “What is an ally to you?” and “What are you proud of?”

Students were encouraged to write down a response to these questions as a way to show appreciation and show what they are grateful for in their lives.

National Coming Out Day is seen as a day that celebrates anybody that identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or an ally to the LGBTQ community.

“It’s pride…It’s something we’re proud of. Be proud to be you,” Cortez said

The motto for the event was “Come as You,” and Cortez said, as well as those who contributed and attended the event, said they hope to spread awareness of the day and the message it conveys.

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