Reflecting on Coming Out Week 2019

Over the past week, we’ve celebrated Coming Out Week here in the RRC with programs like DIY Drag and a pageant for everyone to show off their homemade, sustainable look, Coming Out Monologues, an open house at the Black Bear Exchange, and so much more. It was amazing to see how many people came out (pun intended) to show their pride and support our community. Our performers at the pageant really showed their passion for performance and sustainability while they competed for the title of Mx. UMaine, with Oliver Closeoff, who debuted at the drag show last spring, snagging the prize. We’re closing out the week with a giveaway on our Instagram.

Coming Out Day stirs up different emotions for everyone. When I came out to my family, I was met with confusion, but plenty of support too. I was more afraid of what could happen than what did happen. But for so many LGBTQ+ folx, coming out wasn’t as easy. Many of my friends lost their family, their community, their home when they came out, were forced to come out, or still aren’t out to their family and have to pretend to be someone they aren’t when they go home. On a day that’s very much about being open and proud of who we are, I want to take a moment to celebrate the people who don’t have that option. You are as much a member of this community as those of us who are out and loud, and we are here to support you in any way we can.

It’s important for all of us to recognize that, even now, with everything that’s happened to make the being LGBTQ+ safer than it used to be, that the world still isn’t perfect, and it’s all of our responsibilities to do what we can to make it better for the folx who are living in unaccepting, unsafe situation. “Making it better” comes in a variety of forms; for some people it means taking to the streets and protesting, for some it means sitting in an office and working on new administration, for some it means educating people who don’t have the knowledge or experiences we do, and for some it means refusing to back down and blend in while going about life.

So here’s what I’m offering for you this weekend. Go out and do something. If you weren’t able to come to any of our Coming Out Week events, think about how you can construct a safe space. If you’re in a position of any administrative power, think of what you can do to make your community and policies more inclusive. If you’re ready to come out, do so, to remind your queer family they aren’t alone. If you’re already out, share your story, and know it will be heard. Do what you can this weekend to make the world a better, safer place, even if it’s just wearing a rainbow t-shirt and be proud of yourself, even if you get some weird looks along the way.