PRIDE!Kent celebrates National Coming Out Day

Christina Stavale

PRIDE!Kent vice president Leora Rzepka (right) reads during the “What’s Up?” portion of the PRIDE!Kent meeting in the Student Center last night. Also pictured (from right to left) treasurer Ashley Dill, President Colleen Eltibi, secretary Ally Oulton and

Credit: Dan Kloock

Decorations lined Room 317 of the Student Center last night as PRIDE!Kent wrapped up Coming Out Week with its weekly meeting — it was a coming out extravaganza.

“Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone,” PRIDE!Kent President Colleen Eltibi said at the beginning of the meeting.

Members responded with a round of applause as Eltibi thanked everyone for their attendance and support at the week’s activities.

This year’s National Coming Out Day was special, she said, because it fell on the 20th anniversary of the Gay and Lesbian March on Washington.

“It marks an important day in LGBTQ history,” Eltibi said.

Board members, including Eltibi, Vice President Leora Rzepka, Secretary Ally Oulton, Treasurer Ashley Dill and Programming Chair Ted Trimm, shared their own stories of coming out.

Members then took turns sharing parts of their personal stories, such as who they told first, how they told people and whether or not people accepted them as who they are.

Two students who attended had told someone about their sexual orientation for the first time earlier this week.

Others talked about how they told people in a variety of different ways — in an e-mail, accidentally or bluntly. Some told their parents first, others told friends and a few even told the Internet before telling anyone in person.

“Part of PRIDE is being aware of everybody’s differences,” Eltibi said.

Freshman accounting major Lauren Hibjan said sharing coming out stories and Coming Out Week in general, help with acceptance and confidence.

Entering college, Hibjan said she had no friends, but once she found PRIDE!Kent, she made at least a dozen friends instantly.

“You know there’s at least 30 people here who support you,” she said. “You find out you’re not alone in what you’re going through.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].