'Coming Out' to awareness

Aubrey Carolyn Wadman-Goetch, a chemistry freshman, creates a square for an awareness quilt alongside Shannon Quay, a public health senior, Wednesday afternoon as part of the LGBTQ Resource Fair held on the UA Mall.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona and Pride Alliance's Coming Out Week, which ends today, was deemed ""extremely successful"" by Pride Alliance officials.

The week included safe-sex workshops, drag queens, breast parties, ice cream, the creation of a ""Love Threads Quilt"" - all of which were accompanied by free condoms. Aside from the unique events, Pride Alliance officials were most proud of increasing the presence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community on campus.

""Coming Out Week was very successful! I know a lot of people had so much fun at all of the events, and we definitely increased our presence as an organization,"" said Justin Howes, Pride Alliance co- director.

""Before people were like 'WTF is the Women's Resource Center?' So hopefully now students will know the resources they have on campus - and where they can get free condoms,"" he added.

Coming Out Week was a chance to find a community of acceptance for many students.

Kyle Schroder, a psychology freshman, commented on his gratefulness for the presence of the LGBTQ community on campus.

""I had tons of fun at the events this week and I met lots of cool people,"" Schroder said. ""It was nice finding a group of people who accepted me for who I was.""

Reaching a wide audience was important for event organizers from Pride Alliance and the Women's Resource Center.

Alyssa Padilla, LGBTQ community ally and senior health and sexuality intern for the Women's Resource Center, said the topics of sexual health, loving your body and acceptance affect everyone, not just the LGBTQ community.

""We are trying to grab the interest of everyone with our events so it's important that we have a whole week to do this,"" Padilla said. ""It ís like that SAAF (Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation) saying says: 'Don't worry, HIV only affects men, women and children.' These topics affect everyone, not just LGBTQ and their allies.""

Jai Smith, health and sexuality intern for the Women's Resource Center, was ecstatic with the success of Coming Out Week.

""We have had a bigger turnout than I could have ever imagined; I am very excited with the events that have gone on and there are still events to come."" Smith said.

When asked if there was any room for improvement for next year's Coming Out Week, Smith replied that he is thinking big.

""I would like to have more people for our LGBTQ resource fair,"" Smith added, ""While we are still educating people I think it's important that we have visibility on the mall. This year we have 10 groups of people for our resource fair. Next year my goal is 20 groups. I want to double it each year until we have a giant resource fair.""

ASUA's Pride Alliance, along with the Women's Resource Center, hopes their presentation of Coming Out Week has educated, inspired and liberated many in the way they perceive the LGBTQ community at the UA.

""The point of the week was for people to know their resources and to know that there is support here. But most importantly, we wanted people to just have fun,"" said Howes.

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