At 3 in the afternoon, on Monday, Oct, 11, 2021, the GLBT Center partnered with the Poole College of Management and the NC State Athletics to do the first Pride Walk at NC State University. The event was created in celebration of National Coming Out Day, an annual awareness day established by the LGBTQ community in support of people “coming out”, by self-disclosing their sexual or gender identity. The event was run by Andy DeRoin (they/them), the Assistant Director of the GLBT Center. Before the event, they answered some questions Nubian Message had for them about the event.
Nubian Message: “How long have you been working at the GLBT Center?
Andy DeRoin: “I have been working at the GLBT Center since 2015.”
NB: “Typically the GLBT Center does a mural in the Freedom Expression Tunnel. What made you decide to do a Pride Walk this year?”
AD: “It was a way to engage with other campus partners in a way we never had before. Which is really cool and also Athletics has done other walks before. So they were really on board for it. So the pieces came together really.”
NB: “Why do you feel the GLBT Center is an important place for students at NC State?”
AD: “So really the GLBT Center, as well as the other community centers on campus. Provide spaces that are affirming and safe environments for those who have an identity that fits under our umbrella. That’s really important considering that the university as a whole is not always set up with our students in mind. We really hope, especially for the GLBT Center to be able to have students be able to celebrate parts of their identity that maybe haven’t been celebrated before. So I think the Pride Walk is going to do that.”
NB: “What does Coming Out Day mean to you?”
AD: “To me I think it means visibility, and like the power of claiming your own space.”
NB: “Is coming out an important act? Do you feel that it’s a necessary aspect of becoming a part of the community?”
AD: “No, at least not in a public way at all. I would hate it if people felt it was a pressure to do that. Even if you come out to yourself, that’s an important way of recognizing who you are and what it means to you. But by no means do you have to share that with other people. It’s about self-acceptance. I think one thing with National Coming Out Day, those of us who can be out can also hold and create space and hopefully crack the door open for folks who are questioning, or who aren’t ready yet, hopefully they feel connected to the community and know that we’re here whenever you’re ready for it.”
NB: “What spurred the decision for the Athletics department and GLBT Center to partner together for this event?”
AD: “They came to us which was super cool. They [Athletics department] were like, “We’ve done this thing before.” and we were like, “That seems really do-able.” So, um, we were able to make it happen. Which is really helpful when you already have momentum for an event instead of making something from scratch.”
NB: “So what does this partnership with the Athletics department look like moving forward? Do you guys plan on having any other joint events in the future?”
AD: “Yeah, hopefully. They had a really cool idea for a film screening that we’re hoping to do in the future. We also brought on Poole College of Management, which is kind of our middle rally point. We would love to get more colleges and campus partners moving forward.”
The event started at 3 PM, but the walk itself didn’t begin until 4 PM. During this time between 3-4 p.m. participants could sign in and design signs and flags using the materials offered by the GLBT Center at their tables at Stafford Commons. They also could interact with fellow students and allies of the LGBTQ community. After sign-ins were over, participants started walking from Stafford Commons. The group traveled through the Freedom Expression Tunnel, the Brickyard, and across Hillsborough Street. The walk ended by Talley Student Union at Wolf Plaza.
During the walk, students shared their thoughts on the Pride Walk event, National Coming Out Day and their own personal opinions on what coming out means to them. Haven had felt the event was, “somewhat anticlimactic, mainly because we’re just walking.”
Arvin expressed his enthusiasm for the event, emphasizing the importance of the event, “being the first of its kind on NC State’s campus.”
Greta stated that, “it’s good that this is happening.”
Travis added that he felt that, “the event was very welcoming.”
Harumi thought that it was “very empowering.” Also stating that this was their “first time at a pride event.”
They were also asked about what the concept of “coming out” means to them and its level of importance in being a part of the LGBTQ community.
Haven said, “[Coming out means] being able to accept myself in public and not hiding who I am.” They also stated that there’s no need in disclosing your identity with others to “come out.”
“I don’t think that you need to be public with your identity to be considered part of the community. Being a part of the community is more of an internal thing. Everyone doesn’t need to know. Before I was out, I still felt really connected to the community.” Haven also added that being a person of color adds another dimension to coming out. “My family [be] like, ‘Why are you making it harder for yourself? It’s already hard being black. Coming out adds more risk to people’s lives.’”
Arvin had felt that the “concept of coming out is a bit white-centered.” He believes that coming out is, “something everyone should aspire to.” He also shared his belief in not having to share your identity with others. “I believe in coming out to yourself, not coming out to the world.”
Greta added on to this, stating, “I believe coming out means accepting my reality and who I am.” She also shared an experience she’s had with family when it came to her coming out.
“Whenever I came out to my mother, she kept telling me I was confused but I stood my ground and said, yes, I am sure this is me.” When asked about the importance of coming out, she stated, “I think stuff like that is important.” Greta adheres to the belief that, “Coming out is an individualistic process, I feel that nobody should come out if they don’t want to.”
Travis stated, “Coming out is feeling accepted and finding other people that relate to you and your identities.” He furthered this by saying, “you’re finally telling others who you are and finding other people that relate to you.”
Harumi stated that her idea of coming out is more, “about accepting myself. It’s coming to terms with who you are.” She believes that coming out should be seen as more of an individual thing. “You’re just as valid in your identity, at the end of the day it’s your choice no one else’s.”.