This year’s theme for National Coming Out Week is ‘Remember, Resist, React!’ to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City.
NCOW is a week of on-campus events that bring awareness to social issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community, as well as bringing visibility to National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBT awareness day observed on Oct. 11.
The theme for NCOW changes yearly so that it can programmatically address current issues that are the most relevant to the community at the time, said Alison McKee, the director of the Wellness Resource Center. Last year it was “Love is Intersectional.”
The “Remember” in this year’s theme is directly linked to the queer youth from the Stonewall riots, a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid that began on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The “Resist” is in remembrance of the transgender women of color who sparked the movement.
“React” pertains to the activism opportunities offered throughout the week’s events, said Nu’Rodney Prad, the director of student engagement at the Office of Institutional, Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership.
“We want to always remember those that came before us and to remember the correct history, too,” he added.
This year, nine events were held throughout the week to represent these principles.
“Each event has one of the words in it, or all of them,” Prad said. “Whether it’s the remembrance of the pioneers, whether it’s the moments of resisting in the community forum as well as in some advocacy letter writing.”
Attendees at a community forum in the Student Center on Oct. 1 learned about the intersection of power, privilege, and racism in the LGBTQ community, as well as analyzing the world after the Stonewall demonstrations.
The Office of International Student Affairs held a coffee hour on Oct. 1 in the Student Center to discuss gender and sexuality inclusion with a global and cultural perspective.
The event ‘Come Out, Speak Out’ held on Oct. 3 in the Underground gave members of the LGBTQ community a platform to share their coming out experiences.
The drag show, also held on Oct. 4 at the Temple Performing Arts Center, provided a fun and safe space for people to express and explore their gender fluidity.
“For me NCOW is visibility,” said Sarah DiTomas, a junior art therapy major. “Visibility for the people who want to be visible and visibility for the people who are invisible at this point.”
Gwen Weiskopf, a senior classics major, said NCOW is particularly special to her because she came out during NCOW in 2014.
“It’s just important to me that I remember how hard it was and that I try to make it less hard for everyone else and that other people just have a better time [coming out],” she added.
NCOW gives the WRC and IDEAL the opportunity to say, “We’re here, we’re affirming, and we want you to be well and to support you,” McKee said.
Tommy Licato, a junior music therapy major, said coming out is a lifelong process. He came out to his friends during NCOW in 2017 when he was a freshman.
“It was really freeing and liberating to have that support system,” Licato said.
NCOW is a space for allies too, and students of all identities are encouraged to attend the week of programming, Prad said.
“You don’t have to have a certain level of knowledge,” Prad said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re a tribe, we are a community and we want to spread the word so it doesn’t matter how you identify.”