Coming out week or, well, the lack of it
Abigail Eck, Opinions Editor
Coming out week is a week of celebration for the queer community in which people of all identities can come together and share their stories, affirming each other and celebrating themselves.
For Augsburg, a campus that strives towards acceptance and forward thinking especially in consideration of our substantial queer community, coming out week is an important show of support and festivity that —well, we didn’t truly get this year.
Coming out week was the week of Oct. 1 to the 5 in which QPA and QIPOC worked in collaboration to present events. The events turned out decidedly well; Tuesday was a wonderful poetry reading sponsored by QIPOC, the English department and Murphy Square; Wednesday was a supportive night of gay anime, Thursday was an informative coming out panel and Friday was an exciting drag show with the opportunity to attend a panel beforehand.
These events were thoughtful and provided great insights into the queer community. However, what about the students who couldn’t attend the events? What about the people visiting Augsburg, also unable to attend? Where was the pride and excitement? Where was the coming-out door on Monday? The only thing that was a real, true showcase of pride to the public were the flags in the stairwell of Christensen. Augsburg’s coming out week was so small-scale outside of the events that most people didn’t even realize it was there.
Considering the context of Augsburg and the current political climate, it is more crucial than ever that the campus shows pride in their queer students. For a lot of students, this is the first time they can truly be themselves. This is a new beginning, a place where they can reinvent themselves, where they can genuinely come out and come into themselves. This is how we can show the truth of the queer experience and what it is. Personally, it was extremely potent during my freshman year to recognize the show of pride during coming out week. Coming from a close-minded community, that was the first time I honestly started to accept myself and felt like I could express my identity publicly and realize that — well, why shouldn’t I?
The potency of this event is brought into more clarity through Augsburg’s Lutheran affiliation. Many students, like myself, have come from religious communities that have rejected them for their identities. It should be extremely critical to show our students that just because our university is religiously affiliated does not mean it isn’t accepting. This is an opportunity for Augsburg to show that the religious community people might have treasured will fully accept and celebrate their differences. Furthermore, it is essential for people who might have come from close-minded communities. This showing of pride tells everybody: close-mindedness is not accepted here. We are here to learn and love and teach, and there is no room for intolerance.
Finally, there is the fact that queer culture is for everybody — not just for those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Maeve Doyle, a student member of the QPA board, states, “People think [pride] is not for ‘me,’ but I think it is for them. There are aspects about the queer community that empower people to be more genuinely themselves, gender constructions help people feel less constricted by societal norms, and people feel like they can really, genuinely be themselves.” And, well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Coming out week is for everybody, if at least for the fact that people who have friends in the queer community can share in their friend’s happiness and the opportunities presented.
In the words of Honey Boo-Boo, there “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” Coming Out Week allows people to engage in queer culture and participate in the sense of strength and family that it provides, and it is especially critical for the Augsburg community to show this solidarity in their queer population.
This article first appeared in the Friday, October 12 edition of The Echo.