For those who aren’t within the LGBTQ+ community, today might seem like just another Thursday, but for those of us who are, today has a very significant meaning.
Today is National Coming Out Day. Coming out means to authentically tell someone who you are. Within the LGBTQ+ community, coming out is a metaphor to describe the intensely complex feeling of no longer hiding in the confined space that is the metaphorical closet. Many of those in the LGBTQ+ community are not able to come out of the closet. Due to their circumstances, they may decide that it is not emotionally or physically safe for themselves to to do so. This does not make them any less valid or any less of an important part of the LGBTQ+ community. Coming out is a personal decision that should be honored because it is incredibly brave to be yourself in a world that often does not respect who you are as a person that is LGBTQ+. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are more common than you might think. The LGBTQ+ community still faces many difficulties with gaining and maintaining equal human rights. This day should not be ignored.
Throughout the entire history of Western New Mexico University, only The Center for Gender Equity and Social Justice has ever had an LGBTQ+ focused event on campus. No other campus organization has ever done this before. For this reason, it is a shame that The Center is on hiatus for this semester because new freshman to our university will not be able to experience all of the inclusivity this campus used to offer by just having The Center’s doors open to students. October also happens to be LGBTQ+ history month, but without The Center here it is almost as though the rather large community of LGBTQ+ students here at this university do not exist. I would highly encourage our allies to the community to step up and attempt to make more of an effort to include our LGBTQ+ students instead of ignoring their existence by not offering events that are focused on exclusively LGBTQ+ issues on campus. It is never too late to make a change and start to show kindness and acceptance to all the students at WNMU.
I’m not entirely sure if this issue would even be addressed here in The Mustang if I myself were not part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am very proud to be in this position so that our campus’ support of the community, or lack there of, can be discussed and improved. Offering safe and inclusive spaces to all students will help this university to thrive. As much as I adore this university, I would not have attended without the existence of The Center and the LGBTQ+ focused advocacy and events it offered. I know that I am not the only with this story. When I told other LGBTQ+ students here at WNMU that I was going to write a story on National Coming Out Day, they expressed to me their sadness and disappointment with the obvious lack in the LGBTQ+ support and spaces on campus. The Center’s most popular event was their fabulous Drag Show that took place in Light Hall every year around this time. The number of students that wanted to attend was so large that students would not only fill all of the seats, but they would also sit on the floor and stand in the back just to be able to catch a glimpse of the show. This is something students obviously care about.
On this special day, I would love for us all to take a moment to appreciate the bravery of those in the LGBTQ+ community and its’ allies. The LGBTQ+ students on this campus deserve more and I hope that this article will maybe have an impact on the improvement of inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students at WNMU.
If you are LGBTQ+ and are seeking support or are wanting to be more involved, some local resources include LGBT Grant County and PFLAG. The Trevor Project is another valuable resource because they are a national non-profit focused on suicide prevention of LGBTQ+ youth. More information about The Trevor Project can be found at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ . Their 24/7 lifeline is 1-866-488-7386. Texting or chatting options are also available on their website. If you are struggling with mental health please call this number, reach out to a trusted friend, or contact our WNMU Student Health department for free counseling and other support services.