Rally kicks off Coming Out Days

Julie Rule

A rainbow-colored flag and a crowd of about 40 people stood north of the Campanile Tuesday for the National Coming Out Days rally.

A tent with tables containing informational brochures about resources available on campus and in the community was south of the Campanile.

“We hope to get people motivated about the week’s events,” said Jeremy Hayes, president of the ISU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Alliance.

Interim Dean of Students Pete Englin, who was the first speaker at the rally, said that while coming out gives a person freedom, the reactions from others sometimes can be difficult.

“It’s kind of a mixed blessing, that coming-out process,” Englin said.

He also talked about “hateful language” that was used at the Iowa State-Nebraska football game over the weekend, leaving some people “probably feeling personally attacked.” He said he plans to “make the commitment to making a better community for all.”

Travis Greene, LGBT Student Services coordinator, was the next to speak.

“I’m here, I’m queer and I’m a member of the family,” said Greene, graduate student in educational leadership and policy studies.

Greene focused on the redefinition of families to include gay men and women living together who may adopt children.

“I think it’s important we look at how we can broaden and redefine the family,” he said. “I encourage you all to come out in one way or another, whichever way you are comfortable.”

Victor Raymond, coordinator for the Central Iowa Bisexual Social Group, talked about dealing with his move from the Twin Cities to Ames and having to come out again in his new community.

“It wasn’t just doing formal presentations,” said Raymond, graduate student in sociology. “It was actually getting to know people. It’s the relationships we form, that family of choice we form. We can support one another, regardless of where we’re at.”

Carolyn Cutrona, president of the Ames Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), came to speak about the accomplishments PFLAG has made in the community, such as getting the Ames school board to add sexual orientation to non-harassment and discrimination policies.

Cutrona, professor of psychology, also said PFLAG has been working with local churches to be more accepting of LGBT members.

Hayes said he was pleased with the rally, which was the first event in the weeklong National Coming Out Days celebration.

“We had a good turnout,” Hayes said. “We had some really good speakers.”

Hayes said the goals for this week are to provide support for people who are coming out and to raise awareness within the community about coming-out issues and how people can be supportive of those who are coming out.

“I think everyone is pretty excited about this week,” he said.