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Coming Out Week seeks to inform and educate

The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Community [GLBC] held several events this week to break down the misconceptions some may have about homosexuals.

“We are trying to find a comfort zone among gay and straight people,” Cate Dundon, co-organizer of Coming Out Week said. “We want to bridge the gap between the two groups.”

“I like what they are doing,” junior Sam Robinson said, “I think that they have done a great job involving all students in the activities.”

“I hope that they do more activities throughout the year,” he said.

On Monday, GLBC invited Sophia of MTV’s Road Rules 10 to speak during a session entitled Sophia Speaks. Sophia was the first person to come out to the entire nation on the show.

Approximately 40 students and members of GLBC were in attendance.

“It’s important to focus on the person within,” Sophia said. “If you are comfortable with who you are then you’re all set.”

“I told the producers that if I got cast because I was gay then I didn’t want to be on the show,” Sophia said, “I wanted to be cast for being me.”

Sophia stressed and discussed a lot of the issues people face when coming out. She told a poignant story about her struggle with coming out to her family and to the nation.

“For the first time in my life I felt free,” Sophia said. “I didn’t care what anybody else thought.”

“There a two emotions in the world, love and fear,” Sophia said. “Everything in the world revolves around them.”

“You have to learn to make choices out of love, not fear,” Sophia said.

Sophia stressed the importance of finding common ground between homosexuals and heterosexuals.

“Why put myself through hell to give someone else heaven,” Sophia said. “I love being gay, but I don’t let it run my life.”

“I’m going to do what makes me happy until the day that it doesn’t make me happy,” Sophia said.

Gay 101, which took place in all five residence halls on Monday and Tuesday nights, provided students with a chance to discuss topics of homosexuality such as stereotypes, pornography, and anal sex.

While in Hecht, 20-30 participants in Gay 101 sat in the lobby area on the couches with signs reading: “I like women a lot ask me why” or “I love men”.

As residents walked by, they were welcome to ask questions.

Questions ranged from why gay people were attracted to members of the same sex to asking if homosexuals believed that bisexuals were greedy.

Members of GLBC shared personal stories and experiences as well as discussing the idea of being “gay by association”.

“I feel like we live in a straight world,” Joanna Pluhowski said.

“I’m a person before I’m gay,” Dundon said. “I want everyone to see us as normal people instead of seeing us as the gay kids.”

“I only heard a little of GAY 101 but I really liked it,” senior Melissa Jones said. “They were very frank with their answers, doing a good job dispelling stereotypes.”

“They were willing to answer any question at all,” freshman Toby Young said. “They helped people understand homosexuality so much better.”

An anti-hate crime candlelight vigil in honor of Matthew Shepard, the college student who was murdered in 1998 for being gay, was held last Wednesday.

President Donna E. Shalala and Chris Vasquez, the president of GLBC were among the speakers.

Today is “Same Sex Hand Holding Day” and members of GLBC encourage everyone to hold hands with their friends in order to spread the message of unity between all of humanity.

“The goal of same-sex hand holding day is to foster an environment where it isn’t surprising to see members of the same sex holding hands,” Dundon said. “It also allows students, who have yet to come out, to hold hands without being judged.”

“If everyone, not just gays, is holding hands then it makes it more accepting,” Dundon said.

“I’m going to hold hands with my friends on Friday,” freshman Emily Ross said. “It’s a great way to support the GLBC, whether you’re gay or straight.”

“I think that everyone should hold hands as a way to stand behind the GLBC,” Ross said.

“You should participate in the event if you are an ally of the cause and are supportive of what we want to accomplish,” said David Abramson, executive director of Gatekeeper, a confidential counseling program founded by GLBC.

“Coming Out Week has done a great job getting out the message of the GLBC,” sophomore Joanna Witherall said. “It really raises awareness about the issues that affect them.”

October 11, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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