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University Celebrates National Coming Out Day

Monmouth’s Intercultural Center (IC) and Pride Club co-hosted a National Coming Out Day (NCOD) celebration with food, giveaways, music, a photobooth, and community mural on the Rebecca Stafford Student Center’s patio on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

This nationally recognized holiday raises awareness for members of the queer community in “coming out of the closet, which refers to when an individual reveals one’s sexual identity or orientation to family, friends, and/or the public.

Zaneta Rago-Craft, Ed.D., Director of the Intercultural Center and Advisor to the President on Diversity and Inclusion, explained the purpose of the IC in relation to the LGBTQ+ community and NCOD. “We support the community by hosting events with our student organizations with social gatherings. National Coming Out Day has been a tradition for many years, and we brought it to the center for the first-time last year…We are hoping to make it a tradition every year here at Monmouth University,” said Rago-Craft.

The Intercultural Center was established in 2019 and has a multitude of LGBTQ+ resources available to campus members, like the safe zone program, the chosen name system, and gender-neutral housing. This does not also include the University’s student led organizations, such as Monmouth Pride and the Gender Studies and Intersectionality clubs.

Fernando Iragorri, a freshman chemistry student, explained why he feels it is his responsibility to help others feel secure in themselves as someone who is out within the LGBTQ+ community.
“As someone part of the LGBTQ+ community and out already, I take it as a personal job to help anyone struggling,” said Iragorri.

Owen Bros, a freshman history and political science student, discussed what NCOD means to him. He said, “Although I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, both of my older sisters are, so I am very supportive of their identities. For example, to show them my support on this day, I’ll give them a phone call and share Instagram posts…I think it is very important for the LGBTQ+ community to have this level of recognition because it represents the struggle associated with coming out.”

Tatiana Romero, sophomore finance student, also celebrates NCOD by supporting her friends and brother who identify as community members. “I like to celebrate this holiday in unity with my close loved ones,” started Romero.

She also explained how other students can support the LGBTQ+ community. “Raise awareness, practice open mindedness, and be compassionate. To make anyone feel loved and welcomed on campus is the best way to support them,” noted Romero.

NCOD not only recognizes the community’s transparency, but also honors the anniversary of Oct. 11, 1987, the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The political rally was prompted by President Ronald Reagan’s administration’s lack of acknowledgement in the AIDS crisis.

Fast forward one year, Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary, gay and lesbian rights activists, worked to establish a holiday in remembrance of the march and what it represented for the community. Although the first march of its kind occurred in 1979, the size, scope, and success of the one in 1987 has led to it being referred to as, “The Great March.”

The holiday is recognized by all fifty states, as well as several other countries across the world.

The LGBTQ+ community stands for more now than it did back in the 1980s. The L stands for lesbian; G for gay; B for bisexual; T for transgender; and Q for queer or those questioning their sexuality. The plus represents all other known identities, such as pansexual, asexual, agender, bigender, cisgender, etc.

“National Coming Out Day is such a beautiful celebration because you are expressing a greater part of yourself…It is warming to be true to yourself,” Iragorri concluded.