Student affairs officials will host a celebration for National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.
The OCU community acknowledged the day in years past with a photo booth or a speaker, but this will be the first year multiple events will occur on the same day as part of a bigger celebration.
The day includes a photo booth, ally training sessions and a membership drive for SPECTRUM, OCU’s alliance that promotes awareness and understanding for LGBTQ+ members. At the drive, they will provide information about the group and recruit new members.
During the ally training sessions, entitled “When I Came Out,” a panel of speakers will share their coming out stories and lead a discussion about different people’s experiences. An ally is a person on campus who supports the LGBTQ+ community.
Jordan Tarter, English junior, said she thinks ally training sessions are positive for campus.
“I think that in a world that is growing in diversity and personal obstacles, people our age need to be in an environment where they feel they can truly discover and be themselves,” Tarter said.
Levi Harrel, associate director of student development, said the ally training sessions are about sharing the different types of coming out experiences.
“We have to understand that it’s not the same for every person,” Harrel said. “By sharing their story, they can shine light on what the experience is like, then share advice and laugh together.”
Harrel said he hopes the event will empower those who have yet to come out and be significant for those who have.
“It’s a wonderful sign of solidarity to members of the community, whether you’re a part of it or not,” he said. “ It says, ‘we see you, stand by you, support you.’”
Other panel speakers are Amanda Kerry, writer and stand-up comic; Jacob Sparks, Miss Gay USofA 2017 and former Oklahoma City Ballet balletmaster, and Remy Barnett, Title IX investigator.
Officials planned two ally training sessions to accommodate student schedules. The first is from 10-11 a.m. and the second is 2-3 p.m. Both are in the Great Hall in Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center. The photo booth and SPECTRUM membership drive will be from 12-1:30 p.m. in Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center.
Tarter said the event is relevant and crucial in teaching students how to support each other.
“This is a really crucial and developmental time in all our lives, not just those in the LGBTQ+ community, so we should all understand what it’s like to grow more into yourself and extend as much support to anyone coming out as possible,” she said.