On Tuesday, UTC’s Center for Women and Gender Equity hosted their annual Coming Out Cookout on Chamberlain Field to celebrate National Coming Out Day. The event was open to UTC students and featured two bouncy houses, T-shirt tie-dying, photo booths, free food, among other activities.
Food was provided by local restaurant, Chatter Box Cafe, which “offers great southern staples with new age twist.”
Chancellor Steven Angle made an appearance as well, and even tried out the photo booth himself.
Students played corn hole, made buttons, tie-dyed, all while celebrating National Coming Out Day. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this holiday is observed on October 11 to commemorate the the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987.
This was my first time attending this event, and I think it’s an important cause to recognize and celebrate National Coming Out Day. Growing up in a small, conservative town, I can honestly say that there was no room for this type of event to exist in tandem with early morning flagpole prayers and the “In God We Trust” sign which greeted students every morning.
Luckily, my parents raised me to love and respect everyone and never instilled any kind of stigma against my peers who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. While I know this is not the case for the vast majority of people I grew up around, there is no excuse for continuing these outdated behaviors. Every human deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
Removing stigma and increasing acceptance of members of the LGBTQIA+ community is vital to improving the quality of life for those who are part of the community from a young age. As an ally, I cannot speak on behalf of those who have had to come out to those around them, but I am glad to see UTC embracing the community and providing support for those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, whether they are out or not.
As a whole, the Coming Out Cookout was a great respite from the chaos following midterms. College students rarely deny free food or free shirts, so there was an impressive turnout. Plus, it seemed that attendees stayed around to see all of the activities available.
It felt nice to celebrate National Coming Out Day with my peers and to see all of Chamberlain Field scattered with pride. I hope that in the future, there are even more events with the same goal of inclusivity, kindness, and love because this world certainly needs it.
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