Students “come out” at UNO

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October 12th, 2010

By Robyn Wisch

National Coming Out day was celebrated at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Tuesday. Gay, lesbian and transgender students came together to tell their coming out story and encourage others to do the same.

About 75 students gathered near the fireplace lounge in UNO’s Student Center to tell their personal stories about coming out. For some, standing up at the podium in that moment was their coming out story, having never told the secret of their sexual orientation to their fellow students. One student, who did not want his name used, said his family still doesn’t know he’s gay. He tried to tell them, he said, but they never accepted it.

“I tried coming out to my parents, like I said, I got kicked out of the house for six months.” “I’ve been beaten, I’ve been abused… I look fine right now, but to tell you the truth, looks can be deceiving.”

UNO Junior Josh Wiley coordinated the event, hosted by the campus group, Gender and Sexual Orientation. He told his own story, saying he found the courage to come out by listening to other people tell their stories and realizing there was support out there. He says letting students know there are safe places to go can be critical for a gay, lesbian or transgender student who needs support.

“The fear of not knowing who you can talk to that won’t judge you is very controlling.” “It makes you watch what you say or who you pretend to be in front of other people, that you put on a mask almost. You kinda change who you are sometimes if you don’t know you can act that way with them.”

Wiley said UNO has generally been a supportive environment for gay and lesbian students. But, he said, making  an event like this visible on campus is important to protect students from bullying, which he said is inevitable.

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