A University of Wisconsin student center unveiled Wednesday a series of celebratory programming intended to bring the campus community together to commemorate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in October.
UW’s LGBT Campus Center is hosting a myriad of speakers and theater performances to celebrate this year’s National Coming Out Week as part of the LGBT History Month. Coming Out Week is a nationally recognized observance. The events will be coordinated by the Equality Forum, Gabriel Javier, assistant dean of students and campus center director, said.
The center hopes the history month will impact students across the nation in terms of bullying, which, according to the Equality Forum — the nonprofit organization that coordinates the month nationally — has been successful in college environments in recent years.
Javier said the events will promote authenticity in identity and the importance of discussions, which are both goals LGBT History Month has strived toward since its inception.
Although the majority of LGBT Month’s messages will remain constant from previous years, Javier said the programming organized this year is an intersection of many identity questions.
“I think this year we are looking at complex intersections about coming out as different identities,” Javier said. “Not just coming out as LGBT, but coming out as a gay immigrant, or coming out as trans and wanting to have a discussion of rights and law.”
Jose Vargas, a keynote speaker for the LGBT Campus Center, exemplifies Javier’s theme of immigration. According to Javier, Vargas will focus on the complexity of “double-coming out” as a gay male of color in his upcoming speech on campus Oct. 9.
The Equality Forum also stresses the importance of immigration as an identity issue for the LGBT community that is shared by other individuals across the country.
As part of Equality Forum’s organized LGBT Month, every day of October is dedicated to a different icon in the LGBT community. Each icon is nominated by the public because of his or her outstanding achievement in his or her field of endeavor, support of LGBT rights or status as a national hero/heroine.
Javier said that the Campus Center will be featuring the icons on its website as well as noting their achievements at the beginning of different events throughout the month.
The LGBT Campus Center will also be holding an open house in the Red Gym Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, during which it will hold an actual closet door to come out of, Javier said.
According to Javier, the upcoming presidential election will not have a large impact on the events planned other than prompting “rich conversation.”
Javier said he is looking forward to the program and views it as an opportunity for community building at UW.
“I think that people really want to get involved,” he said. ”It’s just another way to connect with the community.”
According to a UW statement, the week on campus will feature events such as “Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed,” a full-length theatrical production.
A complete list of UW campus center’s LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Week events can be found on www.lgbt.wisc.edu.