The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership is hosting their 12th annual National Coming Out Week celebration this year with the theme of “Love is the Message.”
On Monday, the office started out the week with its annual festival, which was held virtually on Zoom and open to the public. The festival drew 60 attendees and offered LGBTQ resources on campus and in Philadelphia. Visitors could virtually meet with representatives from seventeen organizations and departments from Temple and around the city.
“These resources allow students, staff, and faculty to engage with various organizations that foster gender and sexuality inclusion,” said Nu’Rodney Prad, the director of student engagement at IDEAL. “These are great assets that further affirms identity but also provides a platform to further visibility and advocacy.”
Alison McKee, director of the Wellness Resource Center and a co-chair of Temple’s NCOW celebration, said this year’s theme was created in part because the committee felt the university community could use a positive, connecting message through challenging times.
“It felt really important to find a theme that helped bring folks together and affirm the community,” she said.
Philadelphia FIGHT, an AIDS service organization that provides primary medical and dental care, consumer education, advocacy and research, were among the groups invited to participate in the festival.
Cameron McConkey, a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow in the Y-HEP Health Center at Philadelphia FIGHT, served as a representative for the organization. The center is specifically for people ages 13-24 and provides primary comprehensive health care focused on the LGBTQ community, he said.
“LGBTQ health care is a big part of what we provide, so for those reasons coming to this festival and getting the chance to talk with students who are LGBTQ,” McConkey said.
The health center also offers a gender-affirming care program that includes hormone therapy for people interested in transitioning and can seek social and medical support there. The center also has a PrEP coordinator who works with patients who are looking for HIV prevention care services.
“We have a lot of patients come to us from local colleges and universities who may not have access to healthcare, have a doctor or people who are looking for a provider outside of those available through their student health system, and that’s a big reason why I decided to come today,” McConkey said.
Several other groups and organizations, like Bebashi, a social service organziation, Galaei, a queer latin organziation, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Planned Parenthood, a reproductive health service, and Women Against Abuse, a domestic violence advocacy group were also present at the festival.
The first 100 participants with an OWLcard had the chance to receive an official NCOW 2020 T-shirt. Visitors also had the chance to win prizes by competing in Kahoot quiz games about the organizations.
Throughout the rest of the week, NCOW will be hosting events, including a conversation on Tuesday about LGBTQ inclusion in other countries and gender identity inclusion in the LGBTQ community. IDEAL will end the week with an annual NCOW drag show that will be held virtually through Zoom on Friday.