The Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity (RCSGD) hosted “Coming Out Monologues” Monday evening in the Hub to celebrate LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day, which takes place Oct. 11.
Students of varying genders and sexual identities attended the event to recount stories of discovering and revealing their identity. Speakers shared their experiences coming out during the initial portion of the event, followed by an open mic for attendees to share their own stories.
Third-year history major William Roberts said the event communicated the “diversity of experiences” people have when coming out.
“Revealing [coming out] as not to be the one-time event … but as a complex, sometimes difficult, but ultimately beautiful and liberating experience felt differently by all queer and trans people,” Roberts said.
Fourth-year communication major Jean Mack, whose name has been changed, said she has a “split lifestyle” because she has not come out as bisexual in her hometown in Northern California but is involved with many LGBTQ events at UCSB.
“It’s very freeing to be in a community where you can be your whole self,” Mack said. “I think for many people, especially coming in as freshmen, it’s their first experience where they can be around queer people.”
Mack said she was comfortable speaking at the “Coming Out Monologues” because organizers reached out to a wide range of identities when advertising the event.
“I think a very subtle thing … which I hope they continue doing, is putting all sorts of identities on the poster itself for the event,” Mack said. “[It] was a big deal for me because, as a bisexual woman, I often feel like I’m not straight enough for straight places and I’m not queer enough for gay spaces so it’s this weird in-between.”
Second-year chemistry major Shelley Alvarez, whose name and year have been changed, said being queer at UCSB is “a lot less alienating” than she expected, but finding spaces for everyday interactions is still difficult.
“A lot of the settings in which people congregate to are very sexual in nature, or they involve a lot of drinking and hook-ups and sometimes you just want to find a group of people to hang out with and have fun with,” Alvarez said.
According to RCGSD Graduate Assistant and Ph.D. candidate Alex Kulick, LGBTQ communities and resources on campus and in I.V. need to be made more apparent to students.
“I think one of the big issues that I’ve noticed really is a lack of visibility,” Kulick said. “There’s certainly a lot of spaces, especially in Isla Vista, that are not necessarily visibly queer or don’t have any visible presence of queer-friendly spaces.”
Kulick said it was his first time attending the “Coming Out Monologues.”
“I was just really, really impressed by the courage of the students and the vulnerability that they were able to share, and also, I think the diversity of the experiences that were showcased along different lines of gender, race, ethnicity, class and, of course, all types of different other experiences that people come from.”