Cougars unite to support gay equality
Students crowded tables piled with stacks of green, yellow, orange, red, purple and blue shirts in front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library on Monday to spread the message proudly emblazoned by their text, “Gay? Fine By Me.”
The free shirts were part of an initiative celebrating National Coming Out Day, a holiday that commemorates the Gay and Lesbian rights march on Oct. 11, 1987, in Washington, D.C. Since 1994, October has been the National Coming Out month for the LGBT community.
At UH, the festivities were celebrated with a rainbow of colors.
“The LGBT community tends to be invisible,” said Lorraine Schroeder, the director of the UH LGBT Resource Center. “National Coming Out Day raises awareness that there are a lot of gay people and allies on campus.”
As students walked toward the grassy area collecting freebies and information, many recognized the significance of the event.
“It’s a way for the LGBT community to unite on campus,” said Brook Sell, a business sophomore. “A day where we are able to celebrate our coming out to ourselves in society.”
He wished positive thoughts for students who were unable to attend and might be struggling with their sexuality.
“Be proud, love yourself and know that you are not alone,” Sell said.
For Ashley Nwokedi, a sophomore studying education and nursing, the event created an atmosphere of acceptance.
“There are curious people that want to know about the LGBT community,” Nwokedi said. “If they can see how happy and comfortable we are with ourselves, then maybe they can come out and understand that there are people here to support them.”
Students were not the only ones attending the event, as many faculty and staff visited to show their pride and support.
“We were in the closet as an institution — and we are finally coming out,” said Guillermo de los Reyes, an associate professor of women’s gender and sexuality studies.
He said this was a step forward for the community that promotes the understanding, tolerance and acceptance of diversity at UH.
“It confirms we are diverse, and a group that is part of that umbrella,” he said.
Other organizations that came to show their support and awareness included the Montrose Counseling Center, UH Counseling and Psychological Services and Gamma Rho Lambda, a campus sorority established as a support system for LGBTQIA female students.
In a display of solidarity, visitors donning the colorful giveaway gathered in the center of the grassy area in single-file lines arranged by shirt color. The result was a vibrant human rainbow flag that was photographed for UH memory.
Students cheered and jumped with excitement as they formed the flag, while students yelled school spirit chants and held their Coog signs high in the air.