This week marked the annual National Coming Out Week (NCOW) at Boston College, presented by the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC). Since Monday, the GLC has been holding events on campus to raise awareness for the GLBTQ community.
“The point of National Coming Out Week is to get the voice of GLBTQ out,” said Carolyn McCrosson, GLC president and A&S ’12. “A lot of people in the BC community don’t realize that there is an GLBTQ community here. We want to increase awareness and spread tolerance for GLBTQ throughout the campus.”
Beginning in 1988 to commemorate the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, NCOW has become a worldwide event, and has been celebrated at BC for over 10 years. The GLC has worked hard to bring this program into the BC community.
“It’s difficult being gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender,” said Josh Tingley, GLC vice president and A&S ’13, “and it’s hard to find resources and support. We want all students to feel comfortable here at BC, whatever their sexual orientation is.”
The week kicked off with a BBQ on McGuinn Lawn this Monday. Students came by for some free food and tie-dyed their Support Love shirts. On Tuesday, the GLC presented their annual “Guess Who’s Gay” game show to help end stereotypes. A panelist of speakers, hidden from the audience, answered questions about their lifestyles and daily routines. The audience then guessed which of the speakers identifies with the GLBTQ community.
“The point of the game show is to really break down stereotypes,” McCrosson said. “We want to show the audience that people aren’t always what you expect them to be.”
Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid, GLBTQ advocates and blog writers, came to the BC campus last night to share their humor, experiences, and advice about GLBTQ issues. The speakers talked about dealing with sexuality and getting involved in the GLBTQ community. Today, from 8 p.m.-12 a.m., the GLC will be hosting “Opening Boston’s Closet,” an open-mic event in Devlin Hall where students and Allies can share their coming out stories.
“We had a really great turn out last year,” McCrosson said. “A lot of students came and spoke at the open-mic event and we had two local police officers come and talk about their experiences coming out of the closet. It was a really great night, and one of the police officers will be coming back again to speak this year.”
“When I started at BC as a freshman, NCOW was the first time I actually realized there was a LGBTQ community here,” Tingley said. “I was in the process of figuring out my sexuality and this exposure allowed me to have conversations and really discern what was going on, in a comfortable environment. Having this week of events is recognition of a community on campus that is frequently pushed to the side or ignored. It is events like this that make me really feel like I am a part of the BC community.”
The GLC hopes to make even more progress in the coming year. “We are starting a peer counseling program for any member of the Boston College community,” Tingley said. “Often times, incoming students don’t know where to look for support. We want to provide a place where students can come and talk about their sexual and gender orientation in a safe and comfortable environment.”
NCOW will end this Friday, though the final event has not yet been announced. “It’s a surprise,” McCrosson said, “but make sure to be on campus at 11:50 a.m.”