By Norberto Perez |Staff Writer|
October is National Coming-Out Series presented by the Santos Manuel Student Union (SMSU) Pride Center. The week-long event allows for a window of opportunity to come out rather than the single international coming out day that fell on Oct. 11. But coming out doesn’t necessarily occur to planned events.
Megan Rush, graduate assistant, worked the counter at the CSUSB Pride Center helped anybody that comes into the Safe Zone. The mission statement aims to respect “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex students and their allies (LGBTQQAI) but “greater campus community” to include “people of all races, ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds, age and/ or religious identity.”
“The coming out process is a very personal experience and is different for every individual,” said Rush, the lead coordinator for the event.
The Pride Center’s series is built to help people having trouble coming out and give them access to resources on and off of campus to help with the coming out process.
“The Pride Center is here for all students, whether they are out of the closet or not. The Pride Center tries to provide a safe space for all LGBTQQAI students to be themselves,” said Rush.
The week-long activities started slowly in the SMSU and Pride Center which included games, raffles and good old fashioned camaraderie. By mid-week “Hot bitches, leopard banana hammocks and renegade nipples,” were some of the campy notes included in Redland’s Darcie Rickert’s performance. The Redland’s guitarist backed by members of Hobo Jazz entertained CSUSB students and guests with their “60s trucker country” inside The Bay at the SMSU.
CSUSB students also performed vocal solos, drum box and guitar duets, plus individual guitar and piano performances. The audience swayed and moved their hands and feet to the music and the final rousing applause was indicative of appreciation for the entertainment.
Thursday events included guest DJ music, “live art” sculpting, “zine” instruction and campus and off-campus vendors in the Events Center at SMSU. Friday’s events included yoga instruction and Frisbee play, typical of another day in the sun for many but for some it was giant step.
Shaina Greensweight, Pride Center staff member, said, “I lost a lot of friends when I came out; I was tired of hiding my affection.” Greensweight came out when she was 14 with her friends but was 16 when she told her family about her lifestyle, “I knew about their concerns and I had the answers.”
Greensweight family accepted her after concerns about jobs and family were answered. But for some teens it’s not that easy.
Deejay Brown plainly put it, “I wasn’t being authentic, I felt like I was being fake,” until he came out to his friends and family at the age of 13. Of the Pride Center he said, “We’re lucky to have a place like this. It gives us a chance to be a community, but to improve the community CSUSB needs to give the Pride Center more visibility, voice and presence.”
Some studies disagree with coming out, “In some settings the mental health boost from being openly gay or bisexual may not outweigh the harms of social stigma and alienation. Time magazine health journalist Alice Park relayed, “It all depends on how supportive the environment is.”
The Pride Center offers a variety of services recreational, relaxing and functional: board games, TV, computers, a quiet corner, micro library and kitchen. A few students can make the center feel crowded yet comforting at the same time.
If you want to help the Pride Center and what they stand for, all they need is your support. Coming Out activities continue Oct. 18 and 25. For more information about upcoming events, personal inquiries or bonding come on in to the Pride Center located in room 112 in the SMSU