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Gay Leaders Call Coming Out Day Events a Success

By Nicole A. Sherry
Staff Reporter

Last week Gays, Lesbians and Friends at MIT sponsored a series of events to celebrate National Coming Out Day, which occurred on Oct. 11. GAMIT leaders called the week an overall success.

The week's events included a party to count down to Coming Out Day, a discussion on coming out in communities of color, a discussion on coming out in general, and a dance. GAMIT was unable to offer as many activities as it has inprevious years due to the Columbus Day holiday.

"The basic goal was to encourage people to be whoever they are and not be inhibited by anyone else," said Thomas E. Wilhelm '94, GAMIT president.

"The dance was tremendous. It was one of our biggest turnouts," said Johanna L. Hardy '92, the outreach coordinator of GAMIT.

"I was encouraged to see a lot of participation in the discussion and the events in general," said Kristen K. Nummerdor '93, GAMIT political coordinator, who led the coming out discussion. This discussion focused on the daily challenges of coming out and the idea of the political importance of coming out.

The discussion "Coming Out in Communities of Color" was not as successful, according to Hardy, who organized the discussion. GAMIT sent 700 flyers to all MIT undergraduate and graduate under-represented minorities emphasizing that the discussion's purpose was to spark awareness in these communities. But fewer than 10 non-GAMIT members participated.

"I was disappointed by the apathy in communities of color. It may be due to a combination of the strongly defined gender roles and the part that religion plays in some ethnic groups," Hardy said.

GAMIT is planning different ways to contact these minority groups in the future. The group is considering setting up times for GAMIT members to speak to black and Mexican student associations on campus.

Less negative reaction this year

The MIT community as a whole reacted less negatively to this year's week than it has in the past, according to the GAMIT officers. The posters advertising the different events and the drop poster hanging in Lobby 10 remained in place much longer than in other years, they said. Normally, the drop poster does not stay up for more than one day.

GAMIT officers said this could be because GAMIT's activities, which include National Coming Out Week and Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Awareness Days in the spring, have heightened the community's awareness.

Wilhelm was not so sure. "I don't think there is less homophobia on campus. I think people [who do not agree with GAMIT] are just being less active this year."