This week, all students identifying as LGBTQ and as allies will be coming together to celebrate National Coming Out Day across campus.
Beginning in 1988, in honor of the one-year anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day is celebrated with lectures, workshops, marches and the like to demonstrate the prevalence and importance of the LGBTQ community around the nation.
Every year around Oct. 11, Binghamton University groups participate in the observance of National Coming Out Day by tabling and holding marches, rallies and other events to increase visibility on campus. National Coming Out Day is one part of Pride Week, an extension of the holiday. Throughout this week, the Q Center, as well as student groups like Rainbow Pride Union (RPU), SHADES and Keshet will be holding special events in honor of National Coming Out Day, which falls on Wednesday this year.
Established in 1971, RPU is a Student Association (SA)-chartered group that works to provide a safe space and community for all LGBTQ students. RPU is kicking off Pride Week with a keynote address by Robyn Ochs, activist, educator and editor of “Bi Women Quarterly.” The event, titled “Beyond Binaries: Identity and Sexuality,” will be an interactive workshop on exploring sexuality.
Brandon Bocanumenth, director for RPU and a senior majoring in psychology, said that the group is working with the Q Center, as well as Keshet and SHADES, SA groups for Jewish LGBTQ students and LGBTQ students of color, respectively, to facilitate programming National Coming Out Day and Pride Week.
On Wednesday, festivities will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a march from the School of Management building across campus, followed by organization tabling and activities like tie-dying on the Spine from noon to 4 p.m. The evening will continue with a celebration in UU-111 at 6 p.m. and Coming Out Stories in UUW-302 at 7:30 p.m.
Bocanumenth said that while Pride Week is a huge opportunity for RPU to gain new members, the organization is always busy. RPU meets weekly and holds social events like fashion shows and drag shows throughout the year and also offers HIV testing on campus once per semester.
“For a lot of people, it’s hard to get testing because you have to go off campus and you have to pay for it,” Bocanumenth said. “We provide free, anonymous testing to anyone who wants to sign up.”
As for being an ally during Pride Week, Bocanumenth said that support is key. For example, this Wednesday, non-LGBTQ-identifying groups will be tabling to show solidarity.
While LGBTQ organizations may be more visible this week than others, Bocanumenth said support and resources are always available from the Q Center and the LGBTQ student groups. Additionally, RPU holds weekly office hours in their lounge, UUW-302.
“You can come in if you need advice, you need someone to talk to or just to hang out,” Bocanumenth said.
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