Alliance Hosts Coming Out Day

Tuesday, October 11 will be a monumental day for the LGBTQIA community. This date, which is nationally recognized as Coming Out Day, marks the first time that many people will openly claim their sexual orientations and gender identities.

UMKC Pride Alliance hosted an on-campus workshop to prepare students considering coming out this Tuesday and for those already out to reflect on this process. For student and Pride Alliance leader Lucy Waldemer, the decision to lead this discussion was deeply tied to facilitating others’ coming out journeys, just as they were helped throughout their own.

“Last year in the dorms they actually had this workshop for coming out, and it was really helpful for me,” Waldemer recalled. “I thought it was really cool that they did that, but there weren’t very many people who showed up, so I wanted to host my own version of it.”

The workshop explained various strategies and options for coming out, emphasizing that the experience is unique for everyone. Waldemer’s tips included “starting small” by first opening the dialogue with close, trusted friends, bringing a friend when telling family, and reflecting on time and place. For instance, a family already undergoing stressors might not be the most accepting audience.

The presentation also related to a college audience. Pride Alliance members advised sending a text to parents to preface that important news needs to be discussed before coming home for a weekend. With Thanksgiving break in mind, Waldemer specified that this kind of message is especially important if a student has discovered a new gender identity or sexual orientation while away at school.

Above all, Pride Alliance leadership highlighted the importance of safety when coming out. Everyone should understand that coming out is a decision, rather than an enforced obligation, especially if a student thinks it might threaten a safe living or family environment.

Assistant director of LGBTQIA Programs and Services Jonathan Pryor reminded students of the university empowerment fund for those who have lost financial support after coming out. Waldemer also recommended seeking out the queer community in Kansas City for a strong support system outside of family.

Despite its obstacles, coming out is a pivotal step that should be celebrated Oct. 11 and every day.

“[Coming out] allows people to be proud and open about who they are,” Waldemer said. “They don’t have to worry about keeping it a secret anymore because that’s so much pressure and stress and anxiety to be keeping this huge thing from your family. Coming out can allow you to be who you are and shows you who really loves and accepts you.”

klewis@unews.com

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