GW Pride members shared their coming out stories with students walking through Kogan Plaza Thursday afternoon during the 14th annual National Coming Out Day.
“I came out when I was a senior in high school. I basically didn’t want to hide anymore,” junior Matt Robbins said about the first time he revealed he is gay. “I wanted people to see who I really was. I told my mother in Home Depot. She said she loved me no matter what.”
The Human Rights Campaign started National Coming Out Day in 1987 to send the message that “it is OK to be gay and out,” said GW graduate Andrea Cerbin, a HRC representative.
“The goal of National Coming Out Day is to come out to someone new every year,” Lejano said, adding she told people she thought needed to know that she was a lesbian, including her close friends.
Lejano said she told her mother about her sexual identity for the first time two weeks before last year’s National Coming Out when she was a freshman.
“My mother thought she raised me wrong somehow,” she said. “It had nothing to do with her; it was just something I chose.”
Junior Sofiya Goldshteyn said she first identified herself as bisexual in high school because she had the reputation of being a lesbian.
“I was getting sick and tired of it all,” Goldshteyn said. “One day in the middle of class I screamed, `I’m not a lesbian, I’m bi.'”
Goldshteyn said she “outed herself” to her mother last year.
“She thinks it’s a stage, and we don’t talk about it,” Goldshteyn said.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, GW Pride manned an educational table at Kogan Plaza. Members of HRC and GW group Queers, Dikes, and Fems, a social group for gays, lesbians and feminists, also participated in the event and answered questions from students passing by.
The event’s purpose is to create visibility for GW Pride and educate students on National Coming Out Day, Lejano said.
GW Pride provided pamphlets on how students can more easily come out of the closet and condoms for males and females to promote safe sex.
Some students said they were not familiar with the naitonal movement.
“I’m from Turkey, and National Coming Out Day is and would not be acceptable,” said freshman Bekir Menetlioglu, who said he has lived in the United States for a year. “I don’t prefer (homosexuality), but I can accept it. It’s their private lives.”
Other observers said GW Pride and National Coming Out achieve their goals to promote awareness.
“It’s good to see students taking a stand for what they believe in,” freshman Nyounti Tuan said.
Tuan said the event was informative and stressed health, which she said is “very important.”
She also said the day helps support gay people who wish to come out.
“National Coming Out Day is a great idea for people who are in denial about their sexuality, and GW Pride can help you come out through their support,” Tuan said.
Lejano said this year is GW Pride’s 30th anniversary.
“There are about 500 students on our list-serve,” she said.
Members do not have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trangendered, or transsexual to participate in the organization, Lejano said.
“Last year one of our executive board members was straight and was just a strong supporter,” she said.
Members are not asked to disclose their sexual preferences to join QDF, member Courtney Lawson said.
“(Sexuality) is very private; you don’t ask about that,” Lawson said. “It’s not necessary for you to be (gay to be in the organization).”
Lejano said GW Pride is a support network for her.
“GW Pride is great to have,” she said. “It helps me a lot in figuring out part of who I am. I’m not alone and not the only one confused about my sexuality.”