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The Message of NCOW

From flags to cupcakes, rainbows made the presence of queer people rumble throughout campus last week as UCLA’s Queer Alliance celebrated National Coming Out Week. With such a variety of fun events, movie screenings, public speakers, panels and (everyone’s favorite) the BBQueer, it was easy to forget that “coming out” was, at least in theory, the main event of the week. Luckily, the story of someone close to me put back in perspective the importance of the rite of passage every queer person must face in life. My friend, let’s call her Emily, finally mustered the courage to come out to her coworkers last week; what would have been another tedious Monday meeting for most of the office was National Coming Out Day to Emily. Although she didn’t doubt for a second that her coworkers would accept her, still she admits, “I was so nervous that day, I thought I was going to have a heart attack”. But when the moment came, her worries melted away. As her coworkers offered her hugs and kind words, Emily felt like she “scored the winning touchdown against USC”. Emily credits National Coming Out Week as the final push she needed to reveal her truth. She sees the importance of the week in terms of raising awareness of the struggles the LGBTQ community faces, as well as encouraging dialogue about queer issues. But more than anything, National Coming Out Week 2011 was a chance for Emily to liberate herself. Now every time she goes to work, Emily no longer has to fear that someone would find out or that she would accidentally let slip something that would reveal her sexual orientation. Although she is still not out to her parents, she feels that a huge burden has been lifted. She concludes, “If everyone came out of the closet, I am sure we would have a lot less homophobia. That’s how we start changing things.”

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