Students show LGBT pride at National Coming Out Day

Students write their secrets at LGBTA’s National Coming Out Day and place them in a rainbow-colored box for safe keeping. Photo Credit: Katie Grayot / Staff Photographer

Minda Greenberg, a 24-year-old CSUN alumna, shared her coming-out story over a loud speaker Monday during National Coming Out Day.

She said she came out to her mother three years ago about being bisexual, but just last night she came out to her entire family on Facebook.

“During a commercial of watching Law and Order, my mom asked me why I liked hanging with gay people, and I told her that I liked girls,” Greenberg said. “She was upset and kind of had that mentality that it’s okay for other people’s kids, but not hers.”

Greenberg said she and her mother argued for about a month.

“I went back into the closet, but eventually my mom said she loved and supported me,” Greenberg said. “My Facebook postings from my family last night said, ‘We still love you.’”

The event was hosted by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance (LGBTA) club at the Plaza del Sol on campus.

With a backdrop of colorful balloons, Skittles candies spread across a table and Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” blasting through the speakers, students were able to read literature about National Coming Out Day and sign a petition which states the need for a queer resource center on campus, as previously voiced on Tuesday’s A.S. meeting.

LGBTA president Martel Okonji, 21, said he wanted all students, regardless of their sexuality, to go and support this event by wearing a rainbow ribbon representative of the gay pride flag, or a friendship bracelet handed out at the table.

He added the show of support would give students a free Chipotle burrito during the event.

“This is the day for us to be who we are without any complaints,” said the sociology major. “We are willing and loving everyone in this world. You don’t have to be gay to show your support.”

Franne Cumpas, 21, child adolescent development major, stood in line for the free food and said that even though she identifies as a heterosexual woman, she wanted to lend her support.

“A lot of my relatives and a lot of my friends are a part of this community, so that’s why I’m here,” Cumpas said.

LGBTA events coordinator Taniella Block, 20, said she is always impressed by the growing number of students who identify themselves as heterosexuals and come out to support the event.

“There were a lot of people last year who are heterosexual and came to support us,” said the music performance major. “It’s important to us because they are saying, ‘I’m not gay, but I support what you are doing.’”

She added the event cost roughly $120 and that it was important for all of her peers to be involved.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated annually Oct. 11 and is utilized to make the government and public aware of the issues and rights of the LGBT community. Typically, this day is used for people to come out to their family and friends about their sexuality and how they identify themselves, Okonji said.

Additionally, students were given the opportunity to come clean about their own secrets by writing them on a banner that read “Wall of Secrets,” which was visible to passersby.

The secrets could also be placed in a rainbow-colored box for safekeeping.

Chelsea Beyries, 18, said she identifies herself as bisexual and came out to her mother in the 8th grade. She said this day was important to tell the world she loves both men and women.

“When I told my mom, she didn’t take it well,” said the theatre major. “I don’t mind writing my secret on the wall for everyone to see.”

Beyries wrote on the Wall of Secrets: “I don’t judge love by what’s in people’s pants.”

As a member of Gamma Rho Lambda, a queer-based all-inclusive sorority started at CSUN in 2009, Beyries said the sorority provided a club for anybody who identified as woman.

Angela Koontz, 20, founding sister of Gamma Rho Lambda, said this chapter was the first in the nation to accept gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who once identified as women or who currently identify as a women.

She added other queer sororities required individuals to choose between the labels.

“We wanted to break the heterosexual paradigm in the Greek community,” said the deaf studies major.

Koontz said there are about 20 members and that supporting this event was important. She added that people who are in the closet could be encouraged by those who have come out of the closet about their sexuality.

“This is a day for those who have come out of the closet to share their experience to others and to give hope,” Koontz said. “We even have straight allies, (heterosexual advocates for queer rights) to come out of the closet as well saying they support LGBTA.”