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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

LGBT Coming Out Week activities to emphasize solidarity, strength

UW-Madison's Coming Out Week, 11 days of workshops, lectures and social events, will begin Tuesday to promote awareness of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender issues and provide an opportunity for members of the community, both gay and straight, to interact and have fun. 




Organized in conjunction with Thursday's National Coming Out Day, Coming Out Week will contain 13 events, among them a Sex Out Loud presentation entitled 'Safer Sex,' a workshop detailing the legal rights in LGBT relationships, and the airing of a documentary profiling the conflicts between the Boy Scouts of America and their anti-gay policies. 




Jeremiah Allen, co-president of the Ten Percent Society, said the week was organized to meet two goals.  




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'[We want] to increase visibility for the LGBT community and show solidarity and give courage and strength to those who need it,' he said.  




The events will begin with a lecture Tuesday by Steven Seidman, a professor of sociology from the University of New York and will end Saturday with the Ten Percent Society's Coming Out Dance.  




In planning the week, Allen said he did not meet any opposition and credits the city of Madison and UW-Madison for their open mindedness and history of liberal acceptance. Last year, a minister from Kansas led a protest in Madison against National Coming Out Day, he said. But students and Madison residents organized a larger counter-protest in response to show support for the LGBT community, Allen said.  




Just being visible, Allen said, is the most helpful aspect of Coming Out Week.  




'We want to show gay people can be visible and out and not have major problems,' he said.  




Kevin Otten, the UW-Madison Division of Housing LGBT liaison, said events such as Coming Out Week can make the process of 'outing' much easier.  




'[Coming out is] one of the most powerful things a gay person can do to affirm their identity,' he said. 




Otten said he knew individuals who first announced their homosexuality during last year's Coming Out Week, but he said the week was not organized just for that purpose.  




Otten also said the social aspect of the week is very important and said he hoped it will get people talking about LGBT issues, allow allies of the LGBT community to show support and create a friendly environment where people can meet. 




Sponsors for the week include the Ten Percent Society, OutReach, Sex Out Loud, the UW-Madison LGBT Campus Center, Woman's Touch, University Housing Action Wisconsin and the Office of the Dean of Students.  




Otten said events such as Coming Out Week are essential and hopes that for members of the LGBT community, the week will be a 'fun time to just celebrate who they are and enjoy that.' 


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