Celebrating National Coming Out Day: The University Raises the Pride Flag

Upper right: Pictured are left to right, Dylan Kohere, Lily Lauzon, Jackson Powers
Bottom right: Pictured, Dean Ric Baker

Photos courtesy of Isabelle Hajek and @unewhavenspectra on Instagram

Upper right: Pictured are left to right, Dylan Kohere, Lily Lauzon, Jackson Powers Bottom right: Pictured, Dean Ric Baker

Isabelle Hajek, Contributing Writer

On Monday, Oct. 12, the Office of Residential Life (ORL), partnered with PRIDE and SPECTRA, to host their annual Pride Flag raising ceremony on the Bergami Patio in recognition of National Coming Out Day, which occurred the day before. The event was live-streamed and posted on the @unewhavenreslife and @unewhavenpride Instagram pages.

The event began with ORL Staff, William Frazier, Birona Grant, and Molly Kavanagh handing out “goodie bags,” filled with pride masks, stickers, flags, and pamphlets while checking students’ Coverifieds.

Senior dean of students, Ric Baker, began the ceremony with his own experience in the LGBTQ+ community, by walking attendees through his own coming out process. At the conclusion of his address, Baker held up the shirt he wore to his first Pride March stating that it was, “the first time I wore a pin labeling me as gay…it was liberating.”

Alvin Tran, assistant provost for diversity and inclusion, took time to welcome attendees to the “family” and explained that national coming out day is not about seeking acceptance from others, rather it’s about self-acceptance. He urged everyone to “come out” again on Nov. 3rd for the election saying, “your vote is your voice.” His words elicited cheers from the crowd as they waved their flags in support.

The president of PRIDE, Lily Lauzon spoke of her experience with PRIDE and gave a brief synopsis of the history of National Coming Out Day. She highlighted that it is nationally recognized and falls on the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay Rights. She encouraged the audience to be supportive of LGBTQ+ people who decide to share their identity and stories.

The vice president of PRIDE, Jackson Powers followed Lauzon’s speech by explaining that National Coming Out Day is not only important to support those in the LGBTQ+ community but is also impactful in bringing “awareness” to the community. He said that coming out is a vulnerable act and that it is important to do so only “when you feel ready and when you feel safe.”

Dylan Kohere, sergeant at arms of SPECTRA, introduced himself as “gay dad” to the audience. He expressed his love for the community and his part in it as a “bisexual transgender male.” Kohere said, “Coming out is one of [the community’s] most powerful tools,” explaining that in personally knowing a person that is LGBTQ+, an individual is more likely to show support and acceptance towards the community as a whole.

In an interview with the student leaders from PRIDE and SPECTRA, they emphasized the importance of visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, not only for others to see the numbers but also to help those who identify as part of the community feel supported.

Lauzon concluded the interview with a message to those in the community, “National Coming Out Day is for you and yourself and your own journey through this community. If you are in or out of the closet, you are loved, you are supported, and we are proud of you.”