Students show pride during National Coming Out Week


Rachel Folse

Members of the Lavender Lions club and attendees enjoy the National Coming Out event on October 11th in the Student Union Breezeway.

Lavender Lions, an organization on campus for the LGBTQIA+ community and allies, and Multicultural and International Student Affairs hosted three events during National Coming Out Awareness Week, taking place from Oct. 10 to Oct. 12.

One of these events included the celebration of Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 by Richard Eichburg, a psychologist, and Jean O’Leary, a gay rights activist, to raise awareness of the LGBT community and its civil rights movement. They chose Oct. 11 to mark the anniversary of the second major National March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights in 1987. Even though there has been more acceptance throughout the years, it is a topic that still remains relevant. 

The Safe Space Ally Training happened on Oct. 10 in the Pennington Student Activity Center from 5-7 p.m. It was an initial introduction to what it means to be an ally, how to create a safe space, and important things to know as an ally for the community. The event was facilitated by Will Takewell, who shared his extensive knowledge of advocacy and allyship. For those who missed this session and would like to participate, MISA will be hosting another session on Monday, Nov. 21, which students and faculty can sign up for by going to their Instagram @southeasternmisa. 

The National Coming Out Day celebration took place on Oct. 11 in the Student Union Breezeway from 2-4 p.m. Students were able to receive stickers and flags representing different sexualities and a bubble blower. They listened to uplifting music about gay positivity and had rainbow balloons that students could take photos in front of. Students also were able to write a kind, inspirational message to those within the LGBTQ+ community and place it up on the colorful notes wall. 

Mo’Zelle Heggins, president of the Lavender Lions, discussed her favorite part of being president of the organization. 

“It’s nice to see change happening in real time. I’ve seen many members find their friend groups from this club. When I see members hanging out together in the Mane Dish and making memories, it makes me smile because I helped that happen,” said Heggins. 

The final event was the Courageous Conversations Panel, which took place Oct. 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. MISA welcomed students and allies to engage in a panel discussion regarding the journey of coming out, LGBTQ+ visibility and all in an open and respectful environment. 

Heggins spoke on the goal behind all three of these events. 

“I was safe space trained last year but I encourage everyone on campus to take it. I want the National Coming Out Day to be a reminder that LGBTQ+ students still have a voice on campus and that we aren’t afraid to stand up for them. I am going to be a panelist on the Courageous Conversations Panel. I hope I can inspire people and try to make change even when it seems impossible,” Heggins said. 

Heggins emphasized why National Coming Out Day is important to her. 

“I think it’s important to celebrate because coming out is not easy and possibly dangerous in certain environments. It’s also important to reassure those who haven’t come out yet and show them that they still have a safe space here on campus,” Heggins said.