Photo by Trey Powers
By Anya Dussault | News Editor
Wednesday, Oct. 11 marks an important day for the LGBTQ community: National Coming Out Day, which celebrates a major milestone in their journey.
Sexual Advocacy for Everyone (SAFE) is the student-run club on campus devoted to serving and supporting members of the LGBTQ community, as well as educating those outside of the community in ways to be an ally.
SAFE hosts Coming Out Week, which includes programming such as co-sponsorships with Inter-Residence Hall Association, the Office of Chief Diversity Officer Ame Lambert, FEM Society, Africana Student Coalition, the Multicultural Student Union, and the Intercultural Center
Kicking off the week of events was the SAFE to be YOU photo booth in Commons on Tuesday, which aimed to increase visibility of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
“The photo booth is a great way to open the week because it’s like, ‘come take a picture,’ be proud, and have fun,” said junior Dani Small, the secretary of SAFE, in an interview the week before the event. Small added that the event’s location will help the club reach more people.
Later that day, SAFE hosted a “There’s No Place Like Home” themed movie night in the Gender and Sexuality Center.
Small shared some of the reasoning behind the movie selection, explaining that the SAFE eboard wanted to focus on LGBTQ pop culture.
“Judy Garland has been an icon to gay men ever since the movie came out, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is lowkey a gay anthem at rallies and events,” Small said.
Small added that a gay YouTuber, Toddrick Hall, shared his experiences of being gay and a part of the LGBTQ community through the story of the “Wizard of Oz,” which added to the symbolism of the movie.
On Wednesday, people gathered in the Gender and Sexuality Center to paint pumpkins and hear RWU panelists speak on their personal experiences of coming out.
The event aimed to remind students that there are established members of the campus community who are working and thriving while also identifying as LGBTQ.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, AIDS Project Rhode Island speaker Jordan Rego will present about STI transmission and queer sexual health misconceptions. Because a lot of people have misconceptions about sex between members of the LGBTQ community, protective and preventative measures aren’t as widely known.
To conclude Coming Out Week, there will be an RSVP-only mas”queer”ade social held in the Sailing Center. The theme of the event symbolizes the fact that LGBTQ individuals do not need to hide behind a mask when they are with people who accept them.
“I hope that people realize the struggle to come out and how much of a privilege it is to be able to be in that position,” said sophomore Isaac Martin, the treasurer of SAFE. “Coming out is a continual process and it never really ends after [the first time]. You’re constantly coming out to new people that you meet all the time.”
Small feels that the eboard found a great balance in making sure that the programming would be both educational and celebratory, meeting the needs of people within and outside of the LGBTQ community.
“For me, it means that we’re highlighting and giving light to the community and highlighting a struggle that a lot of us go through, but one that not too many people fully understand,” Martin continued, adding, “Hopefully this will broaden [other people’s] understanding.”