Queers and Allies kicked off this year’s Coming Out Week with a barbecue at their house on Oct. 20, 2014. The organization plans the week of activities around the date of National Coming Out Day, which was on Oct. 11.
“We usually try to structure it around that but this year it happened over fall break so we didn’t want our week long of events with fall break slicing it up,” said Andrea Jacoby, president of QnA. “We’re generally trying to celebrate living openly and trying to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable in this space to come out and be who they are in public if they are comfortable to.”
Students and faculty reserved tables in Grounds For Change on Tuesday for the second event: coming out stories and supportive conversation. QnA opened the discussion with introductions of the board before going around the tables to share names and preferred pronouns.
“We like to fill the entire week to get different kinds of activities,” said Serena Audley, ’16. “Some at lunch, some after class just to give different options for community members who want to come and experience Queers and Allies or a safe space for the LGBT community.”
On Wednesday, Jonathon Alcantara, ’18, invited the community to participate in his Collage For Change project. Originally from California, he brought the idea to the east coast hoping for a new atmosphere.
“One of my main goals is to spread it throughout Meadville as well because I’ve heard the LGBT+ bubble is just within the school,” he said. “I just want people to notice this is more than coming out or expressing your sexuality, this is about being comfortable within your own skin. I am dedicating as much as my time as possible to making this project succeed, not for publicity, just to show people that someone is out there and really wants this problem to go away.”
To the bare bones, he planned for people to write their names on a piece of paper and have their photo taken, but encouraged people to write supportive messages and be creative.
“I created this to show people that hey, even though your close friends or people that are supposed to love you don’t care about you, there’s someone out there that loves you and supports you 100 percent,” Alcantara said.
He does not plan to make the collage a traditional event because he wants to find another creative medium.
The Pride Alliance, composed of roughly 20 staff and faculty members, also met this week to discuss creating a safe environment.
“It has been three or four years since the group has met regularly,” said Kate Costanzo, head coach of women’s basketball. “Ashley Hughes [the lacrosse coach] and I revitalized the group last year. Last year’s plan was just to gauge interest in the organization among our colleagues, to share ideas about our group’s direction and to get to know one another better. This year, we are planning on having a monthly meeting where we will discuss different topics, ideas, current events, etc.”
Friday’s Coming Out Ceremony will be held at noon on the Gator Quad and will be a symbolic and literal coming out of the closet for those who feel comfortable participating. A dance will be held Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m. for all Allegheny community members in the lobby of the Vukovich.