Posted October 7, 2012

National Coming Out Week events get underway

Monday (Oct. 8) marks the beginning of National Coming Out Week (NCOW), a five-day civil-awareness event celebrating people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

This year’s events include a launch party, a panel discussion on gender roles and stereotypes in the LGBT community, a drag show, the annual NCOW fest and a conference on LGBT members’ personal coming out experiences.

NCOW was first recognized at Temple in 2008 as a way to inform the community about National Coming Out Day, which is observed on Oct. 11.

Temple resident directors Nu'Rodney Prad and Temple Jordan serve as co-chairs, working with Temple’s NCOW committee on the events. The committee consists of members from University Housing and Residential Life, the Office of Student Activities, the Health Education Awareness Resource Team (HEART), the Queer Student Union, the Residence Hall Association, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, Campus Recreation, the Office of Leadership Development and Student Center Operations.

The committee builds partnerships with local groups to participate in individual aspects of NCOW events. Committee members from Student Center Operations, Residence Hall Association and HEART join with groups such as Campus Philly, Student Activities and the Dean of Students Office to support the effort.

“Groups like Sodexo are creating a special cupcake exclusively for NCOW,” said Steve Dexter, acting assistant Director of Residential Life.

Dexter said that other groups are providing items such as t-shirts and bracelets as a way of spreading the message behind NCOW. “Each year the events evolve as the number of partnerships grow,” he said.

And as more groups come together to strengthen the effort, the university offers a more supportive atmosphere for people of all sexual orientations.

“A lot of people involved with the planning of the events are self-aware of their sexuality,” said Dexter, “But for many students, they are still questioning it. Maybe those students won’t always come to events because they are fearful, but they’ll watch at a distance and then check out online resources.”

NCOW events are important because they create awareness through campus. When students share stories and celebrate being self-aware and accepted, it creates an inclusive environment, said Dexter.