Coming out: national day for a personal choice
October 18, 2007 12:20 PM
“My advice to anyone who’s coming out is that it’s like a roller coaster; it’s scary while you do it, but when it’s over you’ll be glad,” said Gian Hernandez, a 17-year-old freshman from San Louis Obispo County.
The National Sexuality Resource Center and the Queer Alliance at SF State co-sponsored a celebration of the 20th anniversary of National Coming Out Day at SF State on Thursday, October 11th.
The movie “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo dressed in drag, played on a large projector screen. A lone microphone in the foreground, students and faculty members were encouraged to tell their coming-out stories to celebrate National Coming Out Day. Information booths with free condoms, candy, and pamphlets were available for all who attended the event.
Hernandez was celebrating his one year anniversary of coming out. Last year, Hernandez wore a shirt to his high school that read “I like boys.”
“My P.E. teacher came up to me and shook my hand which was cool because he’s this really masculine guy,” Hernandez said.
According to Hernandez, when he came out to his mother, she said she already knew.
“I was pretty much the elephant that no one talked about,” Hernandez said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign Web site, National Coming Out Day is celebrated each year on October 11 to commemorate the 1987 Lesbian and Gay March on Washington and the first unfurling of the AIDS Quilt on the National Mall.
The site compares public opinion polls on key issues from 1987 to today shows a dramatic increase in support for equal job opportunities, open military service, and inclusion in hate crimes law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Amber Rivard, Vice President of the Queer Alliance, came out to her friends when she was 15 and was in a relationship with her first girlfriend, Jordan, during her sophomore year of high school. Rivard said her friends kept telling her to come out of the closet to her parents.
Rivard accidentally came out to her mother at 18 when her mom saw a picture that she had of herself and Jordan lying on top of each other in the grass, staring into each other’s eyes with Jordan’s hand half up her shirt.
“That’s when I knew I was caught and I couldn’t lie about it anymore,” Rivard said, “I told my mom that Jordan and I had been dating for a while.”
Rivard said her mother’s reply was, “You think I’m stupid? I already knew, I’d rather you marry Jordan over any guy out here in Richmond.”
However, Rivard’s mother wanted her to go see a psychiatrist because she believed that she was going through a phase.
Rivard said she later found out that the therapist told her mom that there’s no way to find out whether or not someone is gay and if that was the only reason she wanted Rivard to see a doctor, then maybe her mother was the one who needed to see a psychiatrist.
Rivard told her father that she was queer in a different way: she wrote him a letter. According to Rivard, she didn’t come home for three days to let him think about whether or not he still wanted her living in the house. When she came back, her father told her it was fine but he didn’t want her to be openly lesbian in his face while she was in his house.
Rivard said the only type of discrimination she has faced was when she recently quit her job because her employees filed a sexual harassment charge against her for talking about her girlfriend inappropriately in a back room. Rivard is now devoting her time to school and being vice president of the Queer Alliance.
The NSRC and the Queer Alliance held the informational event in Jack Adams Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Planned Parenthood, Black Coalition of AIDS, ASI Women’s Center, education at, educational and referral organization for sexualityhad information booths set up in celebration of National Coming Out Day.
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