Student groups celebrate UNH annual coming out week

Bret Belden

Monday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 16 marks National Coming Out Week and last Tuesday, Oct. 11 marked National Coming Out Day in general. The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), in conjunction with other groups on campus, is holding daily events to recognize and celebrate LGBTQIAP + (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer and questioning, intersexual, asexual and pansexual) identities and those people who have already come out or are just now coming out.
Oct.11 is known as National Coming Out Day because of the half a million people who were a part of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. The day serves as an annual reminder to promote acceptance and safety for the LGBTQIAP + community and allow all individuals to live life as they choose.
Monday kicked off the week’s event schedule with a “Coming Out as Questioning” lecture in the Memorial Union Building (MUB), followed by Tuesday night’s talk, titled “Misconceptions of Coming Out.”
“The events being held this week are very important for the LGBTQIAP+ community here on campus. They give the community a chance to come together to both celebrate and reflect on the progress we have made, while also being aware of all the work that still needs to be done,” UNH junior and Student Senator Douglas Marino said.
The rest of the week will include various events dealing with the topic of coming out. OMSA held a drop-in event called “Apple Cider, Donuts and Queer Community” from 12–1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The MUB will host two more events on Thursday, Oct. 13; the first being OMSA’s “#RealTalk: QPOC & Sex,” at 12:40 p.m. in room 327, and the second being an event sponsored by the MUB’s Current Issues Lecture Series, a lecture titled “Everyone is a Little Bit Trans (Gender)” with transgender stand-up comedian, writer and “Transparent” show star Ian Harvie, starting at 7 p.m. in the Strafford Room. Lastly, Alliance will host “Tie Dying & Cotton Candy” from 3–4 p.m. in room 145 of the MUB on Friday, Oct. 14.
According to Marino, UNH has made a lot of progress in recent years when it comes to overall LGBTQIAP + acceptance. “We still have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that people of all identities are treated with dignity and respect here at UNH. We still need to do more to educate students, faculty, staff and community members about different identities and ways to be effective allies to the community,” Marino said.
Marino also acknowledged that the campus community still has a lot of  work to do when it comes to policy. In particular, he mentioned establishing more gender inclusive restrooms on campus, and making sure that members of the LGBTQIAP+ community on campus have the resources that they may require.
Just last Sunday, Oct. 9, UNH Student Senate passed a resolution proposed by Marino. The proposal supports statewide protections in gender identity and expression discrimination.
OMSA encourages all community members to attend the events celebrating LGBTQIAP + identities and coming out, and to use the hashtag, #unhcow2016 at any and all National Coming- Out Week events.