Outsiders know Clarkies as open-minded, strong students who strive to create changes that will benefit the community. But some of these Clarkies have overcome a lot of obstacles growing up; to become the individuals they are today. OPEN’s event “Coming Out Stories” left its audience proud and humbled by the brave group of individuals who shared their stories in the event. They were brave to stand in front of a room full of people and talk about what many had always thought were their darkest truths. Also, they were brave enough to reach a point in life where they were comfortable and accepting of who they are.
For those of you who don’t know, OPEN is a group on campus that serves the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community and also helps spread awareness about them. As a first-timer going to their event, “Coming Out Stories”, I expected it to be about individuals coming out as their sexual orientation or gender identity. To my surprise, the event was not just about the LGBTQ community rather it was a space for anyone to speak up and come out as whoever they wished to be.
Set in the perfect ambience of the Grind, the audience cheered as Sully Donahue said “I am coming out as home-schooled.”
On the other hand Emily Denny shared her story about coming out to her sister as a lesbian and how her sister was not shocked or surprised, but rather indifferent to her confession. This indifference meant the world to her because it made her feel normal.
Many had shared stories close to their hearts. These included surviving suicide, anorexia and coming out to their parents as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual or queer. These stories left the audience smiling, shocked and sometimes in tears. A plethora of emotions had taken over the Grind halfway through the event.
Surprisingly “Coming Out Stories” was not just for Clarkies. Scott Keete, who lives with a few Clarkies on Woodbine Street, had decided to come to the event with a slightly different agenda.
Scott had taken the opportunity to come to OPEN’s event and talk to us about his alcoholism and the initiatives he has been taking with the Clark administration to start up an Alcoholics Anonymous group on campus. Amidst everyone sharing how they had overcome their fears and obstacles, it was inspiring to see an individual trying to help others overcome what he had struggled with for many years.
Similar to past years, “Coming Out Stories” was a success again this semester. As a whole, it represented Clark for what it truly is; a place filled with diversity and with individuals who are strong-minded fighters. Those of us present at the event can agree that it was an inspiring experience led by brave individuals who humbled us with their stories. These stories were a mixture of humor, struggle and tragic events in the lives of our peers. Many of us took away more than just inspiration from this event. We now hold a broader perspective about the individuals we see around us every day. It was more than just the stories of people coming out as their sexual orientation and gender identity. It had stories of people coming out as who they believe they are.
by Suaida Firoze