Students Honor Coming Out Day

Celebration centers on quilt of brightly colored index cards of supporters’ names

Yesterday’s cloudy skies gave way to a rainbow as students celebrated National Coming Out Day.

Members of Harvard’s Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters’ Alliance (BGLTSA) gathered in front of the Science Center, shouting “Happy Coming Out Day!” to show support for gay students and mark the 20th anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights.

“It’s a celebration of being visible and being proud of what you are,” said former BGLTSA co-chair Gilda D. Medina ’09. “It’s to let people know you have people backing you up whether you’re queer or straight.”

By the end of the event, about 125 supporters had written their names on brightly colored index cards, which were taped together to form a quilt. The quilt, the centerpiece of yesterday’s celebration, was modeled after the NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was unveiled 20 years ago.

“Normally we just have people sign a paper, but we wanted something powerful,” said BGLTSA community chair Michelle C. Kellaway ’10. “There’s something about a quilt that brings people together.”

As a lead-up to yesterday’s celebration, members of BGLTSA had distributed packets with a pamphlet about coming out, a BGLTSA “safe space” sign, and a rainbow ribbon to every undergraduate suite.

Organizers wanted to emphasize that National Coming Out Day is not only for gay students, but for anyone wanting to come out about a part of his or her identity.

Student reactions to the Science Center display ranged from supportive to unsure.

“I’m not sure what the impact necessarily is, because I feel that people that sign it are people that already support it,” said Leah Y. Xue ’11, who signed the quilt after asking BGLTSA members about their efforts.

“It’s all about recognizing who you are and telling people who you are,” said Jeremie B. Giacoia, a second year student at Harvard Divinity School.