What is Coming Out Week? You may think it’s the end to long hibernation in the dorm rooms due to studying for midterms. Although this type of “coming out” may apply to you, there is a different set of students who find coming out week a big step out the door. Coming Out Week at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University revolves around National Coming Out Day, which is on Oct. 11. This day is dedicated to supporting the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. In honor of this day, the Women’s and Diversity Center has created events all throughout the week of Oct. 7 to raise awareness of the community on our campus. James Roberson, the staff director, elaborated by saying, “This week is dedicated to bringing awareness to the community that Embry-Riddle is accepting of all race, gender, or sexual orientation.” Their first activity to kick off the start of Coming Out Week was painting “Pride Rock,” not to be confused with The Lion King. On Tuesday, the Gay Organizations Fair was held in the lower hangar. Organizations including Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Yavapai County Health Services, and Wellness Center were present. At the event, students could go speak to each organization and become familiar with LGBT resources.
Wednesday, the heavily anticipated drag show took place followed by the Fall Fling. The drag show was an empowering event where participants dressed up as the opposite gender to support LGBT pride and raise money for a charity. Professor Jacobs, also known as Honey Kim, won Drag Queen and Lilith Matthews, or Richard “Dick” Cox, won Drag King. “It was an eye opening event and was welcoming to all students. It showed the support and acceptance the campus has for the LGBT community,” stated sophomore student Tiffany Wimenta. Following the drag show, the fall fling took place at the lower hangar. Since the dance was open to the community, Yavapai and Prescott College came to show their support. “It was a wonderful environment. Awesome music, free food and alcohol, and great people! I had fun,” stated Jennifer Rowell.
To conclude Coming Out Week, the Women’s and Diversity Center held their last event, “Coming Out Stories,” on Thursday at Area 51. Fellow students shared their experiences and struggles of being accepted by their friends and family. Some stories were encouraging and heartwarming while others showed what a struggle it can be. Even though everyone’s story is different, all the strangers had something in common; that they had all gone through the same challenge of coming out. Good stories accompanied by delicious ice cream made the last event a successful closing to the week.
Coming Out Week 2013 has been the longest Pride event ever held in Prescott. This was the first of many annual coming out weeks here at Embry-Riddle. There was an overwhelming amount students who showed their support this week including members of the Greek fraternities and sororities. Mid-week, the rock was repainted for a different celebration. The fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma came out the next evening and repainted the rock back to the rainbow to show their respect and support for Pride week. Jess Hernandez, the events coordinator for the Women’s Diversity Center, said “As someone who has worked so hard to make this week happen, it was a very touching gesture.” Due to this week’s success, hopefully Coming Out Week will grow even more in the future and become a tradition at Embry-Riddle.