National Coming Out Day: A Day of Recognition, Remembrance and Celebration at UCSF

Writer
School of Medicine

The National Coming Out Day celebration on Oct. 11 kicked off with a scrumptious serving of rainbow cupcakes in Saunders Court. Though the weather was a bit chilly, the display of all things rainbow kept people coming to find out more about LGBT organizations and services at UCSF.

The LGBTQ Student Association, GLBT Visibility Project, Gay-Straight Dental Alliance, Chancellor's Advisory Committee on GLBT Issues and the Office of Diversity and Outreach rounded out those present at the event.

After a half-hour of tabling, participants hurried inside for the premiere of UCSF’s It Gets Better video. The video, modeled after the one created by Dan Savage, reminded both young and old alike that life as a LGBT person often does get better with time, urging us all to keep alive the hope for a better tomorrow. It Gets Better also served as a testament to the vast diversity of LGBT-identified people on campus, and to the community that supports both current and future LGBT-identified UCSF students, faculty and staff.  As the video came to a close, members of the audience were given the floor to share their own coming-out stories.

The stories transported us to a time both foreign and familiar. It allowed us to imagine the racing heart, the sweaty palms, the sigh of relief, the flow of tears and the fear of rejection that often accompanies the experience of coming out. As people told their stories, it became clear that coming out and what it meant could look and feel very different. Some narratives were funny, some very happy and some extremely painful. Each story played out against a different social climate, allowing us to recognize the constantly evolving backdrop against which LGBT people live their lives.

Stories didn’t merely revolve around LGBT people. The importance of having allies in the process was woven into many of the coming-out narratives, recognizing the love and support that close friends can often provide during this time of transition. The stories also reflected on those who were not able to be with us, and those in the community whose lives were cut short due to bullying or discrimination. These moments of remembrance reminded us of the changes that still need to happen.

The National Coming Out Day at UCSF was much more than a day to raise awareness about the LGBT community on our campus. It was a day to recognize the struggles and joys of transition, a day to remember those who are no longer with us, and a day to celebrate those who have and are still braving the never-ending process of coming out.

Link: UCSF’s It Gets Better Video: http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/10/12950/ucsfs-lgbtq-community-assures-teens-it-gets-better