Santa Barbara will have a lot more closet space after this weekend, or so the Queer Student Union hopes.
QSU will host a rally for National Coming Out Day today at noon in Storke Plaza, where queer students will have the opportunity to openly talk about their sexuality. The rally “is intended to be an open mic for people to share their coming-out stories,” said Brandon Marich, a fifth-year senior microbiology major and co-chair of Queer Student Union.
“The purpose is to provide an empowering experience because there aren’t always safe places to come out,” he said.
Marich also said that he hopes the event will “spread awareness, counteract stereotypes, show the real aspect of coming out and educate.”
Following the rally, there will be a reception at 1 p.m. with refreshments at the same location. QSU plans to continue the celebration at the Santa Barbara LGBT Pride Festival on Friday and Saturday at De La Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara, where they will also attempt to raise funds.
While the rally is aimed at helping those who are hiding in the closet or have a foot in the door, Marich said the event is not meant to apply any pressure to people who are not ready to come out of the closet.
“Everyone has to make their own decisions,” he said, “and education is the first step.”
Kiely Hosmon, a junior women’s studies major and former chair of the QSU, talked about the importance of having support when she came out.
“I came out my senior year in high school,” she said. “The reason was that I founded Gay Straight Alliance [at my high school]; I didn’t come out as queer until I had the support from that club.”
Hosmon said her parents were at first angry when she came out, but “are really accepting now.”
Last year, an estimated 50 to 100 people came to the rally in Storke Plaza, and QSU expects this year’s attendance to be about the same, Marich said.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated every Oct. 11 to celebrate that date in 1987, when half a million people marched in Washington, D.C., for gay and lesbian equality.
Brian Turner, a sophomore political science major and vice chair of UCSB College Republicans, also said he supports the rally.
“I am all about the National Coming Out Day. Coming out is a very important experience that many queer students go through in college, and it is imperative that they feel accepted on campus,” he said. “There is also a strong need for support and acceptance on our campus.”