BY Lindsay Montgomery
LGBT Resource Center presents Coming Out Week
They’re here, they’re queer and they would love to get to know you.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center will be sponsoring a week-long celebration of pride Oct. 11-15. The campus-wide event is meant to give students a better idea of what UNF has to offer the LGBT community and those who support them, starting with support and activism.
The week kicks off with Coming Out Day, which is a nationwide event.
“People always wonder what the festival is about,” said Natalie Nguyen, a program assistant for the LGBT Resource Center. “It’s to celebrate National Coming Out Day, to celebrate people who have and people in the process of coming out.”
Students who are already out will have a chance to talk about the pressures they experienced during the process, said Maria Bastos, political science sophomore and vice president of the UNF PRIDE Club.
Although PRIDE members say activism is generally subdued on campus and the LGBT center is tucked into a quiet niche of the Student Union, this week will give both the center and the UNF PRIDE Club an opportunity to reach the students who are too shy to approach either group on their own. Nguyen said UF is the only other university in the state that has an LGBT Resource Center.
The PRIDE Club constantly strives to raise awareness.
“I would love if more people got involved and were active,” sociology senior Autumn Chandler said.
She said the club is always accepting new members.
“It’s important to give [LGBT students] a support network and a way to meet people who are open to who they are, public relations senior and PRIDE Club president Jonathan Lam said. “It’s hard to be on your own.”
Free anonymous HIV testing will be offered through the LGBT Resource Center in their Student Union office Oct. 13. It will be open to UNF students, faculty and staff.
The week’s activities are also intended to bring community support to campus.
There will be an exhibit featuring the work of local photographer Anne Goldbauer 5 p.m. Oct. 14. The work featured focuses on local LGBT groups and shots of PRIDE Club members.
Special guest Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, will be speaking in the Student Union Ballroom, room 3703 immediately following the exhibit at 7 p.m.
Although the PRIDE Club is still growing, its foundation is strong. There are about 20 active members of the club, all of them determined to spread the word and welcome everyone who is interested in being more involved with LGBT rights and activism.
They say next week is just the beginning of the club’s interaction on campus and that students should keep their eyes open for more ways to show their pride throughout the year.
For more information about the club, check them out at their Facebook group, UNF PRIDE CLUB.