This past week, October 8-12, was Coming Out Week on campus.
The events were put on by the Queer and Questioning organization. National Coming Out Day was Thursday October 11.
The Q & Q group has already hosted mixers and meetings this school year. This week was a time of celebration for the members.
Coming Out Day has been a day of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) awareness since its founding in 1988. Robert Eichberg, a psychologist and gay rights leader, started the movement in 1988.
“Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes,” Eichberg said in 1993.
He believed that problems like homophobia thrived in silence. His goal was to end the silence and start a conversation about gay rights. Eichberg died from AIDS in 1995.
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) began in the United States but has spread to other nations like Ireland and the United Kingdom. Participants are often seen wearing pink triangles or rainbow apparel.
Gustavus has been taking part in the day of LGBTQ awareness for years.
“Our executive board has been hard at work since before the school year even began,” Queer and Questioning Co-President Quinn Peterson said. Peterson is in charge of organizing the on-campus events.
“Queer and Questioning (also known as Queers and Allies) is a very fun organization that does a ton of fun stuff for both the campus and community, such as our annual trick or treat for a cause, which last year was for donations for Puerto Rico after the hurricanes. We are both an advocacy and awareness group, and we meet in the WAC at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. These events are open to all students,” Peterson said.
You don’t have to personally identify with the LGBTQ group in order to take part in the fun.
There were four main events held this past week and one more happening on Friday, October 12.
The first was held outside and the each of the next three were held in the Courtyard Café.
The first activity that took place during the week was the painting of the rock. The participants got together and painted the rock together.
The second was “Trans Talk with Allison Grillo.” It took place on Tuesday October 9.
This event featured an in-depth, light-hearted, and humorous speech by former professor and NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” contestant, Allison Grillo.
“Allison Grillo brings her “trans-cendent” message and quirky humor to Gustavus Adolphus College. Allison Grillo’s show will feature a wittily narrated slideshow of personal photographs, and revealing stories about gender transition,” the event page on the Gustavus website said prior to the talk.
The third event was the “Coming Out Mixer.” This took place on Wednesday October 10.
This was a more casual and community-oriented event. Free food and drinks were provided as participants engaged in conversation with each other.
The fourth item on the list was the “Queer We Are Open Mic” event. This took place on October 11.
Participants were invited to share stories, poetry, and music on the open mic. There was also a drawing for one lucky attendee to become the first student judge at the Drag Show.
The drag show event is happening on October 12, at 8:30 p.m. in the Evelyn Young Dining Room.
“Queers and Allies are having their annual drag show, hosted by Victoria DeVille. Come and enjoy a night of fun with professional and student drag performers. Students are encouraged to bring money for tips,” the event page on the Gustavus website said.
Victoria DeVille is a professional drag queen and performer. Both professionals, like DeVille, and amateur Gustavus students will be partaking in the drag show.
“This year there will not be a dive dance after the drag show. We will be hosting the October 26 dive immediately following Rocky Horror Picture Show, and students are encouraged to wear their costumes to the dive,” Peterson said.
In the past, the dive dance has been held immediately after the last Coming Out Week event on Friday.
The week was well-received by students. The events were generally fun and relaxed, but they still held onto the message that Robert Eichberg intended the week to stand for.