What: Forum for Racial and Gender Community Improvement
When: Monday, 5 p.m.
Where: UMC, room 235
The University of Colorado is taking the campus's annual Coming Out Week to the next level with daily events supporting and celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and Transgendered community.
Events including open-mic storytelling, panel discussions, a drag show and the new "Celebrating Queer Identities" conference, will coincide with National Coming Out Week. Since the '90s, CU has participated in the national celebration, which revolves around National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, commemorating the 1987 national March on Washington for LGBT rights, according to staff at CU's GLBTQ Resource Center.
This year the tone has changed from "supportive to celebratory," said Glenda Russell, a psychologist with the University of Colorado's Counseling and Psychological Services.
"If they're only told how much misery is in their lives that's what they'll focus on," Russell said. "We want to focus on the good things about being part of the LGBT community and not just on the struggles."
Research released by the University of Kentucky focused on the positives of LGBT identities has inspired the first "Celebrating Queer Identities" conference, Russell said. The conference will be held on the Boulder campus on Oct. 15 with events from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. including a presentation by Ellen Riggle and Sharon Rostosky, University of Kentucky researchers and authors of the upcoming book , "A Positive View of LGBTQ," due out this fall. The conference is free and open to the public but registration is required.
"This is really groundbreaking," Russell said. "Most of these students have never spent a full day thinking about the positive aspects of their identity."
CU senior Lynnette Schweimler, co-founder of CU's TransAct! student group, said after attending the past three year's events, she is looking forward to having fun rather than spending the week as an activist.
"We're always talking about negative issues, things we need to work on, about changing things," Schweimler said. "It will be nice for us to be able to take a step back and think about all the good things and have fun and hang out and have some versus always working on the change aspect."
At least 13 CU student groups supporting the LGBT community are funneling most of their energy towards efforts like getting more gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-blind dorms on campus, working with the university to improve harassment policies and educating and raising awareness in the community.
Schweimler said their hard work is balanced out by the active and supportive environment the groups create on campus.
"The groups provide an easy way to meet people who have same interest as you," Schweimler said. "It's a great way to get involved and make friends with similar values."
Megan Adovasio-Jones, interim assistant director of CU's GLBTQ Resource Center, said with triple the events of last year's celebration, they are expecting participation to greatly increase with more opportunities for people to get involved. A planning committee and support from several sponsors including student groups, helped build this year's activities, Adovasio-Jones said.
"We already have good attendance because this is such a supportive environment," Adovasio-Jones said. "I grew up in a place that wasn't supportive like this so it's a good chance to celebrate not only the LGBT identity but also the allies of that community."
CU-Boulder received four and a half out of five stars overall from the LGBT-friendly Campus Climate Index, with five stars in the counseling and health, recruitment and retention and student life categories.