Whether you are coming out or not, there are ways to talk about it.
Today is National Coming Out Day, which happens to be part of Virginia Tech’s Multicultural Programs and Services’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
Multicultural Programs and Services houses the LGBT Alliance, an undergraduate group, and the Queer Grads and Allies group, and the LGBT Caucus, which is for faculty and staff. There are events scheduled throughout October to raise awareness about these organizations’ aspirations.
Chris Hickey, the QG&A vice president and biological systems engineering student, said many people on campus are supportive of the LGBT community but do not actually show their support, which makes the organization seem invisible.
“I think a lot of people on this campus are willing to do that, but it’s not necessarily happening at the rate that it’s happening at other universities and in other cities,” Hickey said.
The LGBT groups are sponsoring and partnering with their allies to invite new members and promote public forums to gauge public opinion.
Gauging public opinion
The QG&A will have a booth set up outside of the Graduate Life Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. The group’s slogan for this year’s table is “ask about being out.”
Hickey said this event exists to allow people to approach the members and ask anything about coming out at Tech, network with other student groups and discuss opinions of related topics.
“I prefer a public forum aspect, because it creates this discourse between people and you learn their opinions,” Hickey said. “Then, what happens when you start talking about these words that define people is you start breaking down the walls of stereotypes. The more you discuss it, the less fearful you’re going to be of it. It’s like facing the fear.”
The LGBT coordinator, Catherine Cotrupi, founded the QG&A when she was a graduate student at Tech. She said that after researching what other universities were accomplishing with their programs for these groups, she proposed something similar to be established on her own campus.
Cotrupi said that the LGBT community needs more visibility and support in every aspect of university life.
“People need to be aware of this community,” she said. “It’s about inclusion and moving forward.”
‘Partnerships further goals’
LGBT History Month events are listed on the Multicultural Programs and Services website, however there are some events that extend beyond campus.
Cotrupi coordinated with Laureen Blakemore, director of Downtown Blacksburg, to create “Dining Out for
Equality,” a week of special discounts offered by Downtown restaurants. This event will take place Oct. 22 — 26.
“We thought it would be a great way to show support for the LGBT community and focus on Downtown restaurants,” Blakemore said. “The restaurant owners seem really pleased about it.”
Another off-campus event related to LGBT education and awareness is the staged reading of the documentary play “8,” directed by Susanna Rinehart, at the Lyric Theatre tonight at 7:30.
The reading is the eighth annual event sponsored by Gay in Appalachia, founded by Jean Elliott, the communications manager for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.