CSUN students share stories in honor of National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day is an annual celebration which celebrates coming out as lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender.
“It was after the March on Washington that really ignited National Coming Out Day…(it) was really about visibility for the LGBTQ community and standing up for equality” said Sarina Loeb, the coordinator of the Pride Center and LGBTQ Initiatives.
Below, two students share their coming out stories.
There was a slam on the table, her mom crying, when an overwhelming feeling came over her. This is when Grace Castaneda, realized what her mother was demanding: the truth about her sexual orientation.
Grace had just come home from school when her mother confronted her. Earlier that day at work her mother had been humiliated by a coworker, who had seen Grace kissing a female friend.
“This is when I was trying to tell my brain, ‘run stupid, run,’ but my legs weren’t working,” Grace said.
Her mother kept demanding the truth from her. She pleaded continuously, but Grace initially couldn’t conjure up the courage.
Another slam on the table, this time harder. Grace froze, and she pleaded with her mother to stop. “Are you a faggot? Are you a dike?” rang through the house. Grace continued to play it off as if she didn’t understand: joking around to settle the mood. After several attempts Grace finally told her mother the truth about herself.
“Yes mom, your golden child is a fucking faggot.”
Her mother went so far to send her to a psychologist because she thought it was a mental issue and thought that they could fix her. Grace’s mother looked into hormonal treatments as well.
Recently, her mother has come to accept that her daughter is gay.
But during those hard time, Grace needed a support system. She had her best friend who knew she was gay since they were 14 years old. Her best friend was very understanding and told her that being gay didn’t change the way she felt about her.
“For anyone who wants to come out it’s up to you. There is never a perfect time to come out…I would say build a community, a support system…of friends who can take you in and let you crash on their couch or can provide you some type of support,” Grace said.
Andrew Riddick spent many years using his physical strength as a façade. He had difficulty accepting who he was.
“I was teased a lot for being gay in middle and high school…I pretty much beat up anybody that decided to question that and right about the time I came out to myself was when I got it established that the public knew I’m straight. I had finally established this now that is a façade. The truth is you guys were right, but I am not going to let you know that until I feel I can,” Andrew said.
When he finally came to terms with who he was, he knew it was time to tell his family.
The first time Andrew told his mother, she dismissed everything. The second time, she was upset and began to ask why he was going against God’s plan. It didn’t really sink in with her until the third attempt.
It was during Thanksgiving and Andrew was getting ready to leave for dinner when his mother came in. She had heard from his father that he had told him that he was gay the night before. His mother didn’t say very much.
It wasn’t until dinner with the family that he learned what his mother really felt. An aunt at the dinner table began speaking up about how Andrew needed to be fixed.
“My mom turned to her and said that is my son. I don’t care if you are my sister, don’t ever talk about my son that way. And I will stop talking to you forever if you ever decide to say anything that horrible again,” Andrew said.
Andrew’s mother and him are now getting along. She has even met his boyfriend, Logan who he has been dating for a year now.
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Pride Center Support
For those thinking about coming out or who need a support system, the CSUN Pride Center provides a space where students can feel safe. Cathleen Molloy is one of many students that have taken advantage of the Pride Center. It has helped her deal with prejudices that have come with being bisexual.
“In our society we like to think that we are tolerant of other sexual orientations but really we are more tolerant of those we understand the best. For example lesbian and gay. The B (bisexual) and the T (transgender) have a hidden relationship with each other. It is the L and the G that are put in the spotlight but the B and the T are included but they’re shoved to the side” said Cathleen.
The Pride Center, located in the University Student Union, provides a peer mentor program where students can meet each other and discuss anything that they would like to talk about: like coming out.