In a small, secluded classroom on the second floor of Stokes, the GLBTQ Leadership Council held its annual event “Opening Boston’s Closet," created a few years ago as an open forum and a safe place to share coming-out stories during National Coming Out Week.
Even the set up of the room emphasized a sense of community. The tables in were pushed off to the side and the chairs were arranged in a circle. Sprinkled around the edges of the audience were some who proudly donned their “Support Love” t-shirts. The message was clear: You are not alone.
The discussion worked as a type of fishbowl, similar to that of 48 Hours. A few members of GLC began by telling their own personal stories, and then anyone else who wanted to share his or her story was allowed to speak.
There were stories of immense heartbreak and there were stories of love and acceptance. Most contained a little bit of both. As many teenagers do, the young men and women recalled feelings of self-doubt, questioning and denial in their attempt to find out who they are. Yet, those feelings were exacerbated by the constant tune of “one of these things is not like the others” replaying in the recesses of their minds.
“I am different, but I don’t understand why” was a repeated internal struggle for many participants.
The stories revealed that coming out is not a static moment in time, but rather a gradual process of self-discovery. As some of the stories so poignantly showed, that process does not end when a person discovers his or her sexuality. Although self-acceptance can be gained, there is always the possibility that loved ones won’t reciprocate the feeling.
Despite the shadows of broken relationships and loneliness pervading the atmosphere, the event also included stories of hope. There were tears, but there was also a steady stream of laughter amidst the memories of friends and family members pledging their support.
Even members of the Boston College Police Department came to share their life experiences.
“This was a really great event. I had been apprehensive about coming to Boston College because I had come from an all-girls Catholic school and I was scared that BC would have the same conservative atmosphere,” said Liz, a freshman in attendance. “This proved to me that there is a support system at BC.”
Martin Casiano, vice-chair of GLC, emphasized the success of the event. “More and more people have been coming every year. I think it’s an important event because people are able to come and tell their narratives and share stories of support."
Eventually time ran out and some stories were left untold, but everyone exited the room with a little bit more faith in their back pockets and a reaffirmed belief in the BC community. As one person mentioned during the course of the night,“Don’t ever feel like you need to compromise yourself.”
GLC is sponsoring three more events for National Coming Out Week. “Guess Who’s Gay” will be held on Wednesday in Fulton 511 from 8-9 p.m., “F to eMbody” will be on Thursday from 3:30-5 p.m. in McGuinn 334 and the closing ceremonies take place on Friday from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. in the Vandy Cabaret Room.
Featured image via Amanda C Ikard/Gavel Media.