Rainbow emojis flooded Facebook and Twitter feeds Tuesday for the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBT awareness day.
National Coming Out Day promotes a safe world for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and queer individuals to live open and honest lives, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Student Government president Kevin Helgren said he is fortunate to have had a strong support system of family and friends when he came out as gay.
“I realize that’s a luxury and a privilege and not many members of the LGBTQ community have that,” Helgren, a neuroscience and psychology senior, said. “So in terms of the notion behind National Coming Out Day, it’s important to send a really stark message to people who may be sifting through that sort of internal dialogue.”
Linguistics junior Josh Rudd, co-director of Student Government’s Queer & Trans Students Alliance, said National Coming Out Day is important for people who feel comfortable coming out to the opportunity to do so.
“I think it’s really important especially to note that it’s not a requirement to come out and that some people can’t or don’t feel safe doing so,” Rudd said.
QTSA serves as an umbrella group for all LGBT organizations on campus and hosts community-wide events throughout the year. The agency promotes leadership within LGBT communities around the University.
Sarah Herzer, political communication and ancient history sophomore, said National Coming Out Day gives people in the closet something to look forward to.
“Before I was ever out, I would see National Coming Out Day as a day of just seeing what life could be like and the possibilities of being in a place in my life in which I would be able to be out and free to talk with whomever about my sexuality and about being a queer woman,” Herzer said. “I think it’s great.”
Herzer, however, said discrimination is still very present on college campuses and she urges students who are not part of the LGBT community to be conscious and aware of any homophobia or active discrimination on campus.
“Its important for us to say as a University [we’re] committed to diversity and inclusion,” Helgren said. “You matter. You belong here.”