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Coming out on campus

October 25, 2013

Students celebrate National Coming Out Week and tell what it is like to express their sexual preference at Tech

Katie Dumas, a sophomore theater major, and Kimberly Long, a freshman nanosystems engineering major, stand by the Prism tent on National Coming Out Day. – Photos by  Deepanjan Mukhopadhyay

Katie Dumas, a sophomore theater major, and Kimberly Long, a freshman nanosystems engineering major, stand by the Prism tent on National Coming Out Day. – Photos by Deepanjan Mukhopadhyay

IAN EDWARDS
Staff Reporter

 

Across Tech’s campus, the week of Oct. 7th was used to observe Coming Out Week, a joint project between the counseling center and Prism, Tech’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered organization.

 

Taylor Michiels, a junior finance major and president of Prism, said the organization is open to all, regardless of sexual preferemce.

 

“Our main goal is to provide a safe space on campus for LGBT students as well as students who support the LGBT community,” Michiels said.

 

According to Michiels, Prism’s booth for Coming Out Day is about taking pride in the person you are.

 

“The day is about showing pride in who you are,” he said. “Whether that is gay or straight, guy or girl, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, whatever you want to come out as, you can.”

 

Michiels said the diversity of Prism is one of the group’s biggest strengths.

 

“One of the greatest things about our organization is that we come from all walks of life,” he said. “We have people of all ethnicities from the North and the South and of all majors. Most people come to college and think, ‘Oh, liberal and performing arts will be where all the gay people are,’ whereas, in reality, we have engineers, business majors and many more.”

 

Michiels said his own experience with coming out led him to be involved with Prism.

 

Taylor Michiels, president of Prism, decks himself out with labels with things he identifies with on National Coming Out Day.

Taylor Michiels, president of Prism, decks himself out with labels with things he identifies with on National Coming Out Day.

“My first experience with Prism was their Coming Out Day booth my freshman year,” he said. “My friend was really involved and she encouraged me to drop by the booth that day. After that, I began to come out to more people. My time in college has become much easier since that day.”

Justin Keowen, a junior nanosystems engineering major, and William Keen, a junior computer science major, are two straight members of Prism known as allies.

 

Keowen said the interactions between he and his other straight friends generally remain unchanged.

 

“Occasionally they do ask, ‘Why are you going there if you’re straight?’” he said. “I feel that this is more of them messing with me personally since we’re friends and not anything malicious aimed at the group.”

 

Keen said he had not seen any malicious activities aimed at the group.

 

“Prism doesn’t usually get a whole lot of malicious flak from anybody,” he said, “which is always nice.”

 

Kimberly Long, a freshman nanosystems engineering major, said she had a lot of support in coming out.

 

“Well, I’m pansexual,” she said. “Basically, that means I feel comfortable dating a guy, girl or anyone who’s transgender. I grew up in a community in Texas where you were not highly looked upon if you said you were anything but straight. Both of my parents are actually supportive of my choice, and I have a lot of support from my friends.”

 

Katie Dumas, a sophomore theater major, said she had a few more bumps along her path to coming out.

 

“The first person I came out to was my ex-boyfriend,” Dumas said. “He wasn’t very supportive. I think his response was that I wasn’t bi when we were dating and it was confusing. That sucked pretty badly, but since then, I have had more supportive friends.”

 

Michiels said he believes coming out lifts a weight from a person’s shoulders.

 

“Most people are scared to come out in college because of family, religion or social status,” he said. “Really, though, coming out as yourself helps you realize that you aren’t afraid anymore and, in college, no one really cares. The high school fear of being called names is stripped away. For the most part, people care more about the type of person you are than what you do in bed.”

 

Email comments to ije001@latech.edu.

 

 

 

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One Response to Coming out on campus

  1. karen bradford Reply

    November 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Super informative article. Well written.

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