LGBTQ Center hosts discussion for National Coming Out Day


Senior psychology major Brien Thompson leads a discussion on what it means to “come out” on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in spirit of National Coming Out Day. 

Samantha Karam

National Coming Out Day from on Vimeo.

A group of LGBT-identifying Kent State students and their allies gathered in the warm glow of the LGBTQ Student Center on Tuesday for National Coming Out Day.

In honor of Coming Out Day, the LGBTQ Center hosted a roundtable discussion for students to talk about what it means to come out, share their personal stories and learn a little more about the process of coming out.

“Coming out is a complicated, abstract concept,” said Brien Thompson, a senior sociology major.

Thompson said the purpose of the discussion, which he led, was to come up with a solid definition as to what “coming out” is, because it’s something people talk a lot about without ever truly defining it.

“The number one thing I was hoping (for) was that people could come out and be happy with who they are,” Thompson said. “I wanted to teach people what it means to come out and define it. I’m glad people got to talk, and everyone left seemingly in a good mood and, based on discussions, they learned a lot.”

Thompson led the group through a discussion about why, when and how people come out.

“There’s an endless possibility to what coming out means because it’s different for everyone,” said Sarah Rubin, a freshman psychology major.

Coming out could be defined as a way of coming to terms with yourself and how you identify personally, said Rue Monroe, a sophomore theatre studies major.

In addition to defining “coming out,” the discussion featured those who felt comfortable shared their own coming out stories. There were students who have been out for years, and students who are still in the process of coming out.

“I just couldn’t stop smiling” said Kennedy Casey, a sophomore geology major, when talking about taking the first step in her coming out journey and cutting her hair short.

Some students shared stories filled with acceptance, and some had stories of rejection.

“It’s okay to be ‘out’ and be happy,” said Eryn Willoughby, a freshman visual communication design major. “I really like having this organization I can go to. (It) is one of my only safe zones.”

Willoughby said coming out involves a lot of research and time.

There are two major processes involved: coming out to yourself and coming out to everyone else, according to Emily Grubb, a social geography major.

In addition to discussing coming out and sharing their stories, those present were able to ask each other questions about their differing sexualities, genders and levels of self-acceptance.

“We don’t feel the pressure of trying to hide ourselves,” Willoughby said.

The group at the discussion, comprised mostly of students who have come out, talked about how to respond to someone when they come out.

Thompson said to thank them for sharing the information and reassure them that they are still loved and respected, as well as to ask them if they want to talk about what their labels mean to them.

Thompson said labels are different and mean different things for everyone.

“There are no boxes,” Grubb said. “You can do and be whatever you want.”

Thompson said there are three places on campus for those who want counseling services: the Deweese Health Center, White Hall and Kent Hall, in addition to the LGBTQ Student Center.

“People can come down here if they ever need anything,” Thompson said.

For more information on the LGBTQ Student Center, visit its website.

Samantha Karam is a diversity reporter, contact her at [email protected]