NEWS

Coming Out Week expands from 2009


The UA campus and ASUA have housed Coming Out Week activities, since 1991, and this year is projected to be bigger than ever, thanks to an ever-expanding ASUA Pride Alliance.



ASUA Pride Alliance is the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's diversity group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning students on campus and their allies in the community.



""It's good to know that the senate supports us and that ASUA as an organization supports LGBTQ people on campus,"" said Jai Smith, student co-director of Pride Alliance and sociology student. Smith and the Pride Alliance gained $500 to fund an Out and Proud advertisement in the Arizona Daily Wildcat on Oct. 11, the Monday of Coming Out Week.



With twice as much support for the advertisement this year compared to last year, Smith and Pride Alliance credit the expansion of their program and the dedication of their new interns for the growth.



""I started as an intern at the WRC (ASUA Women's Resource Center) and that gave me the opportunity to get to know more about Pride Alliance and realize there were gaps about knowledge on LGBTQ anything,"" Smith said. His work has brought the intern program into its second semester and the center, according to Smith, now averages about 30 visitors per day.



""We have a lot of people that come up here looking for social resources, outlets, it's not just doing one thing,"" Smith said. ""We are providing a space for people to express themselves without a fear of repercussion.""



The Out and Proud ad highlights the more than 5,000 students who identify as LGBTQ on the UA campus. Applications to participate in the ad end today.



Jennifer Hoefle, entering her fourth year as the program director for LGBTQ Affairs, feels just as passionately about the group and their work on campus.



""It's the first time in a long time,"" Hoefle said about there being a Pride Alliance group for the October AIDS Walk occurring this year on Oct. 17.



But this sentiment spreads to the first national speaker, Jeff Shang, a Los Angeles artist and teacher who created the Fearless Exhibit about out athletes in high school and college in the UA Union Gallery. It spreads to the expansion of one week's worth of activities into two, to include a week honoring LGBTQ allies. It spreads to how Hoefle feels the efforts of Pride Alliance help the LGBTQ community and its allies as they struggle day to day with acceptance and equality within and outside of the campus community.



""(LGBTQ individuals) still don't have equal rights, and so we want to honor the people who are willing to walk along side us in that fight,"" Hoefle said.



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