This Monday marked the beginning of Coming Out Week, a weeklong celebration of LGBTQ+ students and allies focused on education, understanding, and acceptance, sponsored by Queers and Allies, also known as Q&A.
Coming Out Week has existed in many forms since it officially began in 1994.
“The LGBTQ+ organization on campus has gone through many transformations and name changes over the years of course, so there have been a few different sponsors,” Q&A President Senior Quinn Peterson said.
“The Drag Show first began around 15 years ago, in particular, [it] is something that lets people look beyond the rigid gender binary,” Peterson said.
On Monday Oct. 7, students were invited to paint the rock to kickoff Coming Out Week. A mixer was held on the following day in the Womyn’s Awareness Center (WAC), which “is a great way to meet other Queer and allied students and to learn about one another’s identities. It’s educational, safe, fun, and it is a relief from personal and academic stressors,” Risk Manager and Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) Rep. Mary Nyhus said.
“The mixer is probably my favorite event after the drag show. We eat frost-your-owns, drink ‘respect trans women’ juice, like the meme and play Cards Against Humanity, which promptly got out of hand. As this occurs early in our fall semester, it provides us with a great opportunity for the new students to meet the existing members,” Assistant Professor in Physics and Q&A Advisor Darsa Donelan said.
Students were invited to go to the DLC Fall Fest on Wed. Oct. 9, followed by the Bi Banter and Trans Talk discussions in the Courtyard on Thursday at 6:00. The week culminates in the eagerly- awaited Drag Show, which will take place in Alumni Hall at 8:30 p.m., and is hosted by Victoria DeVille.
“One of my favorite things about the drag show is seeing how confident students are with their self- expression. It can be difficult to truly be yourself, yet dressing in a costume and performing as a character can give you more confidence, this can be contagious for some students. They are then able to be proud of who they are,” Donelan said.
“I also very much enjoy when I get to jump on stage and perform as my alter ego, Tomboy Cruise. Last year I performed as Tom Cruise from Top Gun. This year, if time allows, I will be performing as Tom Cruise from the 1981 drama T.A.P.S. What can I say? I am a King,” Donelan said.
Queers and Allies hosts multiple events throughout the year, but Coming Out Week is the longest. Other events include Queersgiving, poetry readings and a Halloween event in which students dress up and collect nonperishables for a local food pantry. We “hope to do film screenings and [participate in] The Day of Silence,” Queers and Allies Secretary Sophomore Emily Seppelt said.
Queers and Allies meets once weekly at 6:00 p.m. in the WAC. “We discuss current events, share our experiences as a queer person or an ally, and generally try to create a fun and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ students and their allies at GAC,” Seppelt said. “Everyone on campus is welcome to participate in any of our events, whether they be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, pansexual and ally, or anything else. We value and support everyone on campus,” Donelan said.