It was a full house in the TRUSU Lecture Hall on Oct. 9. A panel of three, including TRU professor Silvia Straka and TRU students Valen Onstine and Laura Hsu, discussed many common misconceptions about the LGBTQ community. They shared their experiences and their struggles of coming out.
A commonly agreed-upon struggle of coming out to the panelists was having to come out every single day, because there will always be people who don’t know.
After the discussion the audience broke into five groups of eight to talk about their personal stories and struggles.
TRUSU LGBTQ rep Julian Simpson facilitated the event and is an active advocate for other LGBTQ students at TRU.
Simpson said events like this are important because they “facilitate conversations that normally people wouldn’t talk about. This is a chance to get people empowered and for people who are not part of the communities to become allies. People want to have the discussions, people want to bring it to the facility, and by bringing it to the facility it trickles down. That process of trickling down is vital for change. People are always talking about radical change; my radical change is being the dandelion of queer, I spread my seeds and hope they land in the right places.”
Elise Huffman is an animal health technology student at the university. Huffman said, “For me, I never really came out, it was never really a big event. I’m just myself, but people are constantly asking me ‘oh so are you this thing?’ and I always have to explain to them that I’m this thing and that thing. There isn’t one label to fit my entire identity. I find it really affirming to just be myself out in public. It’s a really nice feeling that not a lot of queer people may not always have, so when they’re able to just be themselves it can be really difficult.”
Huffman asked other students to imagine what it would be like to be told that your identity is wrong and to have to repress it and be someone else. To anyone in the LGBTQ community who hasn’t come out yet, Huffman advised “be kind to yourself, and remind people to be kind to you. Don’t tolerate people who are not kind to you. You might feel comfortable coming out one day and you might not, and that’s okay too. Just be yourself, do things that make you happy and do things that make you feel safe. Just be unapologetically yourself and the rest will come.”
More events like this one are in the works, and there are Pride meetings every Friday night at TRU. If you are in need of help or need someone to talk to about coming out or being out, you can call 310-855-4673 or text TEEN to 839863.