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GLBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2012

October is GLBTQ History Month.

The GLBT Resource Center celebrated National Coming Out Day by overlaying the Oval's Valley Forge Elms with rainbow flags.Every year, the Human Rights Campaign celebrates National Coming Out Day to exemplify the effort of half a million people marching for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 11, 1987. The march on Washington was the second demonstration on our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of several LGBT organizations.

The spirit of the march continued for months and led to more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. It was then that Rob Eichberg, founder of The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, former head of the National Gay Rights Advocates, came up with the idea of celebrating one day in the year as “National Coming Out Day” annually on Oct. 11.

This year’s National Coming Out Day theme is “Come Out. Vote.”

Creating a welcoming environment

The National Coming Out Day display is a message to everyone across campus that they are welcome here. It highlights invisible communities that often are at the precipice of resiliency, struggle, discrimination and harassment.

As current statistics regarding suicide report, LGBT students are more likely to attempt and succeed at suicide, which often comes from living in a society where they are bullied, harassed, and/or otherwise marginalized. A public display, such as this, sends a message of celebration and pride to those who not only identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, but also to those who know someone who does.

October is GLBTQ History Month

October was chosen for GLBTQ History Month because several significant events occurred. The first national march for lesbian and gay rights occurred on Oct. 14, 1979, and included historic icons such as Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde and Troy Perry. The second national march for lesbian and gay rights was held Oct. 11, 1987, which later became known as National Coming Out Day. In 1993, thousands again marched and bisexual communities were explicitly included.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) History Month was established in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school history teacher. Several national organizations supported and endorsed the effort, including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network (GLSEN), the Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and the Human Rights Campaign Fund. The National Education Association (NEA) officially endorsed the month-long celebration in 1995.

GLBT services at CSU

In the fall of 1997 the Associated Students of Colorado State University and the Student Organization for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals (SOGLB) proposed that the university establish a GLBT Student Services office. The Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, working closely with these student organizations and with the support of private donors, created the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Student Services at Colorado State University.

GLBT Student Services officially opened Aug. 1, 1998 and was located in the basement of the Lory Student Center. In the spring of 2002, the office moved to a larger space across the hall. In the fall of 2003 the GLBT Student Services moved once again to its current location on the main level of the Lory Student Center. The increased visibility of the office led to a 175% increase in contacts over a period of one year.

In 2009 the office was renamed the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center to better reflect the work being done and the populations served. The center continues to provide educational and support services to more and more students each year.

Each year, GLBT Resource Center hosts a number of different programs, including the GLBTQ and Ally Student Leadership Retreat, the Coming Out  Group – Sexuality, Visible Voices and other educational and social initiatives.

Last year, the physical space (GLBT lounge, Bohnett Cybercenter, Resource Library and front desk) experienced more than 16,000 moments of engaged contact either through physical presence, email, phone calls or director contacts.