On Oct. 11, millions of people all over the world celebrated the 30th Annual National Coming Out Day. Coming Out Day is known as a nation-wide celebration for non-conforming and LGBTQ people, and a celebration for love and freedom.
The University of Maine honors this day with week-long festivities know as Coming Out Week from Oct. 15 19. The celebration includes multiple events every day of the week, run by UMaine’s LGBTQ Services and the Wild Stein: Queer Straight Alliance.
The week’s events began Monday, Oct. 15, with an HIV risk/safety workshop in the Rainbow Resource Center. The event was followed by a pride flag-raising ceremony on the university Mall at noon. Dozens of staff and students gathered around the flagpole out front of the library to listen to faculty speak about the importance of the week and the significance of the raising of the flag. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Robert Dana and Silvestre Guzman of the Office of Multicultural Student Life both spoke about the annual flag raising and the importance of making students feel loved, accepted and important.
“Raising the flag on our campus is very symbolic. It is affirming an inclusive community for non-binary folks on campus,” Guzman said.
The flag raised on Monday is new now featuring both brown and black stripes to celebrate not only the LGBTQ community, but also every student of every ethnic identity, background and sexual orientation. The ceremony was followed by an event in the Rainbow Resource Center at 3 p.m. titled Trans 101/Trans in College.
On Tuesday, the Rainbow Resource Center held several events and activities in celebration of Coming Out Week. A self-care workshop was held at 11 a.m. by the Mind Spa, followed by their weekly Tunes Tuesday meeting at 3 p.m. Students also had the ability to make their own colorful crafts and pride flag-orientated decorations in the Resource Center throughout the day.
Other events during the week included the Coming Out Monologues on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the North Pod of Memorial Union, and a walk on the Mall titled “Walk With the Ones You Love” on Thursday.
“I think it’s great that we have so many different activities and events on campus,” fourth-year student Isaac Yeboah said. “My brother and I have been reading all the flyers and postings located on the Mall that have stories and information on them. I have never read such unique and interesting things. This week has been a great experience.”
On Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the North Pod of the Memorial Union, poet Lacey Roop preformed spoken word poetry and interacted with students. Lacey’s poetry was introduced by Jane Pappas, the graduate assistant of LGBTQ services. Monique Flynn, a UMaine Intermedia MFA graduate student, opened for Lacey by reciting four of her own spoken word poems. These included “The Evolution of a Fem,” “Queer Girls Ride Motorcycles,” “Assigned Seating,” and “Gas Station.” Both poets shared their own stories and inspirations for their poetry, and answered questions from students and staff.
LGBTQ Services offers many resources on and off campus for all students including gender neutral restroom locations, inclusive-housing options and substance abuse resources.