Fine Print: Other Campuses

By Northern Star

(U-WIRE) DEKALB, Ill. – Coming out is never easy. Many individuals may face this difficult task over the course of their lives, and the results may be well or poorly received.

In honor of National Coming Out Day, the Northern Illinois University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center and its student organization, Prism, placed an ad today in the Northern Star with a list of NIU students, faculty and staff who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bi or transgender. The ad also lists supporters of the LGBT community.

Homosexuality is an issue many people don’t want to touch, said Dominic Chevalier, a senior computer science major who identifies himself as homosexual. But hiding your sexuality for a long period of time can be very destructive; it’s inevitable for a homosexual individual to need to come out if they want to move on with their life, Chevalier said.

Though some find it difficult to share coming-out stories with others, some find it helpful.

Junior drawing major David Clouston, an openly gay student assistant for the NIU LGBT Resource Center, shared his story.

“My mother listened in on a phone call between me and my first boyfriend at the age of 15. She ran downstairs questioning me and I spilled the beans there and then.”

Clouston said he believes the coming-out process takes a long time and his process is still underway.

“Coming out and telling my parents was painful,” Clouston said. “It’s made my relationship with my parents more difficult. (But) being gay is just a small part of who I am, so I tend not to focus on it or use it as a crutch.”

Andrea Drott, a graduate counseling student and LGBT Resource Center grad assistant, came out to her father on Father’s Day two years ago.

“When I asked my dad what he wanted for Father’s Day, he said ‘a heterosexual daughter,'” Drott said. “I told him it was impossible. So he asked me, ‘Then can I have a happy daughter?’ I was very touched.”

The coming-out process can be different for everyone.

Individuals who come out risk discrimination, hate crimes, rejection and the loss of relationships with family members, said Margie Cook, director of the LGBT Resource Center.

Mike Perry, a junior political science major, had a difficult experience coming out to his family.

“I was having an argument with my mom about religious issues,” Perry said. “When the topic of homosexuality came up, I was completely on the other side of the argument from her. So she asked me, ‘Are you gay?’ And I replied ‘Yes.’ My mother then asked me, ‘How could you do this? How could you do this to our family?’ She went on to blame me for my father being ill, who was in the hospital at the time. Today, they’re still very upset with me.”

Perry said his story shows an individual always should assume the worst out of coming-out situations.

Cook makes sure to remind students there are many benefits to coming out.

“Coming out of the closet is important for one’s internal psychology; it allows a person to feel like they’re being who they truly are,” Cook said.

Family members of LGBT individuals have a coming-out process as well.

-Tom Bukowski

“(When coming out) you hope for the support of your parents and friends, but quite often it’s you who needs to be accepting and supportive of them,” Clouston said.

Freshman history major Eric Schmack, who identifies himself as an LGBT ally and heterosexual, believes people who believe strongly against homosexuality should put themselves in the shoes of someone who is homosexual.

“There are definitely risks in coming out of the closet. But people take risks every day and the rewards are great,” Schmack said.

-Tom Bukowski