‘Coming out on the Seal’ event inspires, motivates LGBTQ+ Hilltoppers

In honor of National Coming Out Day, St. Edward’s University’s PRIDE held a special “Coming Out on the Seal” event for members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their coming out story and hopefully inspire others to do the same. PRIDE President David Weier commenced the event with a short discussion about the importance of coming out before opening it up for attendees to share their stories.

“I was denying myself a piece of myself [before coming out],” Weier said to the attendees. “Seeing someone who is out is a validation of yourself.”

Many students shared experiences of facing microaggressions from people they were or still are close to, and how they can add to the intimidation of coming out. More than just physical safety, students shared their concerns of being negatively judged by family, friends and even teachers.

The truth is, more than just the LGBTQ+ community play a part in coming out. Everyone is somehow related to someone who identifies as gay, whether it is a classmate or a sibling. That is why it is important to have conversations that discuss coming out and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. These conversations bring awareness on how to help those who may need it

“Even though there is a lot of [gay] representation, even though their is marriage equality, young people still struggle,” said faculty advisor to PRIDE, Alex Barron.

Barron emphasized the importance of PRIDE events by explaining how they help those who do not feel accepted because of their sexuality.

“It is therapy for the people involved,” Nick Bravo, Marketing Coordinator for PRIDE, said. “A lot of the time this is their only source to be [themselves].”

PRIDE Vice President Bianca Salinas, also added that events like this can give courage to those who have not come out, or can offer a way that might be more comfortable for them.

At the event, many students shared their first coming out stories to friends or family. Each story was very different. Some cried while they shared their painful experiences, others took pride in their sexuality, but admitted they are not out to their parents and some came out for the first time. Weier shared his personal story of hearing the term gay for the first time when he was a teenager and looking up What is gay? and realizing he fit in.

There is not a single way to come out nor is there a single time to come out. As Barron put it, “every time you meet someone new you will have to come out.”

Coming out events, especially at a Catholic university, can help those who do not know when or how to come out to someone find a comfortable way to do so.

Barron and PRIDE officers all expressed their gratitude for the support Father Peter Walsh– who often attends their events– and all of Campus Ministry.

“It is in the St. Edward’s mission to take a risk,” Salinas said.