Everyone has a role in Coming Out Day

This is not a day to live in fear. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, straight — today is a day to openly realize, accept and celebrate your sexuality. It’s the 22nd National Coming Out Day. Today is a day of openness, of pride. It is also a day to take notice of the possibilities for equality here in Illinois. Just last week, Governor Quinn said he believes same sex civil unions could be legalized in the state by the end of 2010.

The recent string of six student suicides relating to the pressures and persecutions of being gay are heartbreaking. Equally heartbreaking to us is the thought that students on our campus could be feeling the same sting of rejection and judgment. It is not enough to ignore issues of sexuality or to pretend as if they don’t exist; even if you have never attended an LGBT event, don’t be afraid to show up to the rally to show your support, or just to listen.

Coming Out Day events will be happening on the Quad all day, starting at 10 a.m. At noon, guest speaker Flo Kaja and members of the University community will speak on the Quad about their own experiences. Kaja will go into more depth about her own story at an 8 p.m. presentation in Illini Union room 211 and field questions afterward.

None of us, no matter what our sexuality, should be afraid to face these issues together. No one should have to feel without support or allies in this area of life — or on our campus.

Coming Out Day isn’t just for people who are coming out. It’s also about the community at large being there to support them after they have made that step of trust. Don’t let anyone step out and not find strong support ready to catch them.

As the country celebrates National Coming Out Day, as students hand out pamphlets on the Quad to inform others on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender issues, we support our friends and allies in the LGBT community. In doing so, we also must realize that we still have a ways to go for true equality to be realized.