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Our View: Celebrating Coming Out Week moves us one step forward

This week, Cal State Long Beach will celebrate National Coming Out Day with a weeklong series of activities. LGBTQ students and allies from CSULB celebrated National Coming Out Day on Tuesday in front of the University Student Union with an open mic session, where students were encouraged to come out publicly or simply lend an ear to gain awareness and promote tolerance of the LGBTQ community.

We’ve seen huge increases in media coverage of anti-homosexual bullying in schools, and it shows that homophobia is still a huge problem in this country. So, it’s great that CSULB can celebrate the campus’ diversity in a peaceful manner.

On Wednesday, CSULB will hold a short transgender film festival in the USU auditorium and on Thursday, the “Queer Hip Hop Uncensored” concert will be held at the Nugget. CSULB has been celebrating National Coming Out Day since 2006.

CSULB is well known for having diverse student body, and National Coming Out Week is one of the many activities held on campus that celebrates that diversity. We’re lucky to have students from a wide range of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds with different interests and, yes, even sexual preferences.

It’s because our school is so diverse that we’re able to celebrate the LGBTQ community in an open and accepting manner. The National Coming Out Day festivities are still relatively new on campus, and hopefully as time goes on, the events will continue to grow in significance. But, while CSULB may be pretty open as a community, society at large still has a long way to go before seeing the end of homophobia.

After the suicide of 18-year-old Rutger’s freshman Tyler Clementi last year, we saw a huge increase in media coverage of anti-gay bullying from students of all ages. There was a huge cultural response, with everyone from pop stars to politicians trying to take a stand. But, despite their efforts, these stories often end in students taking their own lives.

It’d be naïve to think that because we celebrate National Coming Out Day at CSULB, our campus is free of discrimination and homophobia. Last year a transgender student was attacked in a bathroom and had the word “it” carved across his chest.

Single events like that clearly don’t define the entire campus, but it does speak to the fact that we’re not totally and completely tolerant as a community. But, the weeklong events held in celebration of National Coming Out Day are a step in the right direction toward becoming a campus that truly is wholly accepting of its diverse student body.

Each year, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Resource Center encourage LGTBQ students and allies to become more active in events like the National Coming Out Day activities, the Outlist (a list of LGBTQ students and allies that runs in the 49er) and Lavender Graduation. Acknowledging and participating in these events raises awareness of the struggles the gay community still faces everyday and encourages tolerance among students of every sexual orientation.

We may still have a long way to go until we see the end of homophobia and intolerance, but CSULB is working toward creating a more accepting community starting on campus, and it’s reassuring to see.

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