By Sequoia Sinclair | Staff Writer
In honor of National Coming Out Day, the Lambda Alliance hosted “The good, the bad and the complicated” event on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 2:30 p.m. in the JSAC Coffeehouse.
A panel of four discussed their coming out story and its impact following a short film directed by senior communications major Christine Rosenbaum.
More than 80 people attended the event. Dr. Darla Linville, faculty advisor for the Lambda Alliance (or LAMBDA) said the faculty members spread word of the event to their students to encouraging them to observe.
“People came to get knowledge and a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ community through the lens of Augusta University,” said Linville. “Especially when there is not much opportunity to speak on this subject elsewhere.”
The panelists were Natalie Pudim, Tamika Harris, Mitchel Toomey, and Bill Hight.
Host Linville asked what is the best part about coming out? In many words, the panel explained that self-acceptance is primary— it reduces anxiety, allows one to live without barriers or shame and establishes intimate relationships.
“I could weave out all that wasn’t me in the first place,” said Natalie Pudim.
When asked what could be expected after coming out, Bill Hight shared his story.
“Where I met them, may not be where I want them to be,” Hight said. “On the journey in life we are all at our own place of understanding the world and others. Some people may catch up to you, others may not. Do not give up on yourself be confidant in yourself or the relationship you may want with someone.”
Linville explained the preparation for the event.
“A new approach to Coming Out Day this year are intersecting identities: The LGBTQ+ community is full of differences,” she said. “Sexuality or gender identity is a small portion of how people identify themselves. It is important for Augusta University to highlight all characteristics of identity to eliminate the dichotomous perception of one either being gay or straight.”
When asked if the event was tailored to the LGBTQ+ community, Linville said there is a lot of media attention on the subject.
“The event informed everyone to include allies about the topic,” she said.
The panel also discussed when it is or isn’t appropriate to be “out.”
“I set in a classroom once where a conversation about sexuality came up and I felt uncomfortable by the closed-minded views that students had,” said Tamika Harris. “Once I came out it gave the students a new perspective. At times it is important to be out in the classroom because it makes situations real and relatable.”
In addition, Mitchel Toomey does research with LGBTQ+.
“Being out can help,” Toomey said. “As a gay man, I can relate to issues in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Linville mentioned an important takeaway from Coming Out Day.
“We are here and you need to think about us, for inclusion, when making policy,” she said. “All the gay people are not just someplace else, like New York or Atlanta. There is a community here and there are people to connect with.”
Contact Sequoia Sinclair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on November 7, 2016 in Vol. 59, Issue 2 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.