NEWS

LGBTQ community discusses difficulties in coming out process

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Meghan Fernandez | The Daily Wildcat

Cardboard cutouts are placed on the UA Mall depicting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community during Coming Out Week. Coming Out Week addresses the difficulties that the LGBTQ community faces when coming out and celebrates and embraces the identities withinin the community.

Coming out to friends and family is a difficult process for many LGBTQ individuals, but groups at the UA are trying to make the experience easier.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community and allies joined together for the UA’s Coming Out Week to express their identities and discuss the difficulties of coming out.

According to AJ Born, a public health senior and co-director of Pride Alliance, Coming Out Week was created to help people feel supported and loved. Born said the goal for the week was to educate people about LGBTQ identities.

“We are in support of people who are in the process of coming out, one’s who are already out and we also want to show support for people who are not yet out,” Born said. “It [is] basically a week where we can celebrate who we are.”

For many students, coming out for the first time is a difficult process that takes a lot of courage and support, according to Jacob Winkelman, a political science sophomore and Pride Alliance intern.

“Coming out is such a lifelong process, and even after you come out for the first time you have to keep coming out to anyone you meet,” Winkelman said.

Winkelman said he reached out to the Pride Alliance organization to find a place to feel safe, and encourages other people who want to “really be their own” to join and make a difference.

“For some people, it is a place where they can find a community,” Winkelman said.

In conjunction with Coming Out Week, the UA was ranked number two out of 30 schools for best colleges for LGBTQ students, according to a list recently compiled by bestcolleges.com based on criteria from the Campus Pride index.

The ranking recognized the UA for having successful and effective resources for LGBTQ students.

Stephen Russell, a professor of family studies and human development, said he was not surprised about the rankings because he thinks LGBTQ associations work hard to make people feel welcome.

“[Coming out is] very difficult for many, but there is a lot that we have learned through research that can really make a difference,” Russell said. “U of A has done a lot in the past 10 years to support students.”

Russell said he believes the recognition reflects the UA’s achievements in being supportive of its LGBTQ community.

“We have some of the best policies to support [LGBTQ] students,” Russell said. “We have both a great student affairs program and [a] resource center that focuses on those particular students.”

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