The fourth annual Coming Out Monologues took place Oct. 11 in the library auditorium in celebration of National Coming Out Day. PRISM, the College’s only group for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people (GLBT) as well as the heterosexual people who support them, sponsored the event, which featured many of its members recounting their experiences with “coming out.”
The audience heard stories from several people who have “come out.” Some are just beginning to “come out” to family and friends, some are finished and others are still in the process, as Angel Hernandez, president of PRISM, said in his introduction. Hernandez shared his own story, which he said is a work in progress.
The last names of the night’s speakers were kept private to maintain their personal safety.
There were stories that involved positive experiences with friends as well as Community Advisors that allowed people to become more comfortable with themselves, enough so, in some cases, to enable people to “come out” to friends and family.
The auditorium’s main floor was setup with blankets, throw pillows and comfy chairs to make speakers more comfortable while they told their stories. So many people attended that some had to stand as they listened to the anecdotes, some happy and some sad, but all encouraging.
The reasons for attending varied from a course requirement to general interest and moral support.
Emily Stumpf, sophomore biology major, said, “From an ally point of view I want to see what it’s like for them.”
Mike was the first speaker. He told a story of love and acceptance, saying he believed his mother was trying to raise a gay son by exposing him to daytime soap operas. He finally gained the courage to “come out” to his parents during the Winter break of his freshman year at the College. Mike spoke of his mother’s tears upon hearing the news, not because her son was gay but because of the discrimination he would face as a gay man. He spoke of an uncharacteristic but positive reaction from his father.
Natalie Serra, sophomore women and gender studies major, attended the program in support of her friend Kyle, who shared his story about coming out. “I think it’s very important, hearing people’s stories. People might not think they’re alone,” Serra said.
Kyle talked of an experience that was a little different than others’. Several other speakers mentioned always knowing they were different, which wasn’t the case for Kyle. He said he always assumed that he would grow up and marry a woman and have the accepted 2.5 kids. Kyle said he was confused upon realizing he was gay.
Once the final speaker told the last story, the floor was opened for any audience members who felt so inclined to share their stories. Some people whose stories were just beginning were able to find that they were not alone and that there was a group of people here at the College ready to accept, love and comfort them.
The program lasted well over two hours as audience members continued to share their stories with an audience more than happy to listen.
“Through the Coming Out Monologues I think people have a better understanding of what it means to be GLBTQI (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex). They came to understand that coming out can be a traumatic, but yet an inspiring and great experience,” Brian Skwarek, PRISM member, said.
A major goal of The Coming Out Monologues and a hopeful lasting effect of the program can be summed up by Hernandez who said, “That’s what this is all about – creating a culture and an environment that promotes tolerance and acceptance.”