LGBTQA community partakes in Coming Out Week

Iowa State LGBTQA and other ISU students attended the LGBTQA Student Services ice cream social on Aug. 28 at the Union Drive Community Center.

Morgan Kelly

Coming Out Week can clear up misunderstandings for both members and nonmembers of the LGBTQA community. 


“I think there’s a lot of myths out there as to what it means to be LGBTQA,” said Brad Freihoefer, director of the LGBTSS. “Coming out can create real stories. It’s not on TV. It’s real Iowa State students today and what they’re navigating.”


Coming Out Week helps students in the LGBTQA community, as well as those who support it. There are the allies to the community who assist in the coming out process as well.


“Allies mean that you support. If I am going to be a transgender ally, I hopefully have done some research about my own privilege and power as a cisgender person, and how that might help create a safe place or safe zone,” Freihoefer.


An individual who identifies as cisgender, is one who self-identifies with the gender that they are biologically born with.


“You don’t have to be a part of the LGBTQ community to be oppressed,” said Nicci Port, chair of the LGBTQA+ Faculty & Staff Association.


Port also said allies can be nervous about coming out to support the community because of faith or cultural stigmas or the fear of being told it’s not okay.


There are many ways ISU Coming Out Week can impact students on campus.


“It showcases a variety of important pieces when we talk about the coming out process. It highlights that coming out is just that: a process,” Freihoefer said.


Coming out is usually not just a one time deal. It’s an ongoing event that can happen many times in an individuals life, said Freihoefer.


“When LGBTQA folks come out, it generally is not coming out once. It’s an ongoing process that requires many, many times coming out to many different people: family, friends, classes, employers,” Freihoefer said.


Freihoefer said the process is so long because a person has to constantly decide whether they’re going to correct the person when asked a question that conforms with the culture of the environment.


For example, if a bisexual man was home for Thanksgiving and a family member asked if he had a girlfriend, it’s a tough situation to be in, to constantly be deciding where it’s safe and where that person feels most comfortable being wholly themselves, said Freihoefer.


Freihoefer said staying in the closet is difficult for many members of the LGBTQA community, it can feel like they’re living two different lives.


“Coming out can be a very stressful and emotional time, but we also want to celebrate those who are out and who want to come out this year,” said Adam Guenther, president of the LGBT alliance and senior studying animal science.


“[There is] always, every year an inspiring, courageous set of coming out stories. We’ll see students share their stories maybe for the first time. It happens in very different ways,” said Freihoefer


The Alliance is co-sponsoring Cyd Zeigler Jr. to speak from 8-9 p.m. on Oct. 16.


“It’s going to be a bit of an ebb and flow of emotion,” said Guenther, “We hope that he [the speaker] will question the mindset that some students at Iowa State have.”


Broadening the mindset of students is just another layer of what ISU Coming Out Week strives to do.


“We’re looking forward to it and hope that campus is kinda challenged on some of the cultures they have here and hoping that we have some positive change,” said Guenther. “The community is not a bunch of stereotypes you see on TV, read in books or you see in movies. We are everyday students in every walk of life.”


Everyone in the community has a “different script” or a different walk through life said Freihoefer.


The community is very welcoming, and we can empathize with those going through the struggles of coming out, said Guenther.


“We kind of get beyond theses labels of LGBT, and we get to who we are as people,” Freihoefer said.