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November 1, 2004

LGBT students make Coming Out Day visible at RIT/NTID

From: The Empty Closet - Rochester,NY,United States - Nov 1, 2004

By Khanh Lao

Two GLBT organizations, RITGA and Spectrum, celebrated National Coming Out Week (NCOW) during Oct. 11-15, by providing the events for the glbt community. RIT Gay Alliance (RITGA) started NCOW on Sunday night, Oct. 10. Despite bitter cold weather, some students showed up to chalk the cement in front of SAU and continue chalking along the sidewalk.

RITGA President David Guetzlaff commented, "Tonight is a night where members celebrate who they are, by turning the campus into their canvas. Also in hope that it will help others find who they ARE!"

A few members who commented as well. James Cooley said, "It is an excellent idea to do art on campus. It shows the support and strength of RITGA. I feel good and happy to draw."

"I am happy to be proud and show my pride without any fears," said Brendan Ryan.

Spectrum, formerly Deaf GLO, is an organization for those that are gay, bisexual, lesbians, transgender, and gay friendly people that gather at NTID/GLBT community for socialization, to increase awareness and cultural perspective. Spectrum promotes a safe environment and provides opportunities for a gay diverse community. The difference between the RITGA and Spectrum is that the Spectrum provides a deaf culture perspective.

Spectrum at NTID also did chalking on Monday night in the quad at front of Mark Ellingson Hall tower. Meanwhile, RITGA had a vigil in honor of Matthew Shepard and all victims of hate at Infinity Quad. Guetzlaff stated, "The vigil is a time for us to reflect on where we as members of the glbt community have come from, and realize our hopes for the future."

On Tuesday night, Spectrum Advisor Bryan Lloyd led a round table discussion of "Perspectives on the World of GLBT." It allowed the students to share their experience on when they explored their identity. There were more glbt issues. For example, some students believe there is a gay gene at birth.

One straight student was not totally against transgendered people, but she could not understand why they must change their sex in body. She sought to get some answers from transgendered people at the discussion. There was a discussion on why we need to label ourselves and why we need to come out. For example, I am straight but when I meet new people, do I need to tell them, "I am straight?" No. Lloyd advised us that we needed to come out so we can be comfortable in conversations with other people instead of worrying about lies.

RITGA presented a movie on Wednesday night, Mambo Italian,o in SAU Clark-B Room. It is a great comedy that brought pleasant laughter to the audience. I highly recommend it! Meanwhile, Spectrum brought its members to see the movie Iron Ladies 2 at the ImageOut Festival.

On Thursday, RITGA presented Gayspeak in the afternoon. Guetzlaff explained, "Gayspeak, a selection of presentations on concerns of the GLBT community, was put on in the hopes of offering information to students and staff of RIT on issues facing the GLBT community. The Gayspeak presenters were:

Karen Pelc "Substance abuse in the GLBT commmunity" Jennifer Gravtiz "Current events: Politics surronding the GLBT community" Eric Libey "Same Sex: STD's prevention" Julie White "What is Bisexuality?"

"We had presenters for topics ranging from substance abuse in the GLBT community to same sex practices. These style events usually suffer from poor attendance, and the weather of the day didn't help us that much. However, the event was successful in giving RITGA a presence on RIT, and more so to the faculty and staff of RIT," stated Guetzlaff.

In the evening at NTID, Barbara Jean Wood gave her presentation "Are Our Rights as a Gay Person in the Workforce Protected?" Wood, alumni of NTID/RIT, has been a staunch advocate for Deaf Rights and communication accessible services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens for more than 25 years. Her successful career began as Client Advocate for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Governor Michael Dukakis then appointed her to lead the newly formed Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 1985. Wood told the audience during her presentation about her funny experience in conversation with Gov. Dukakis. He asked Wood if he should be aware of anything that will embarrass him as a commissioner. Wood stated that she is lesbian. Governor Dukakis replied, "Oh, that is nothing! Anything else?"

Wood now serves as Executive Director for the brand-new Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Once again, she has accepted the challenge of making government more efficient and accessible, this time for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens living throughout the Rocky Mountain state.

Spectrum ended NCOW's events with its open house at NTID on Friday evening. It allowed people to meet Spectrum executive board officers and members. At same time, RITGA banged with a Blue & Pink Party. It allowed "people to play Twister, socialized over pizza, or gathered around the cotton candy machine," described Guetzlaff. He also said, "The Blue & Pink Party was a social event to wrap up the week. A place where participants of NCOW could relax and socialize with friends, both old and new. It was a fun laid back event, as a thank you for everyone's support."

Copyright © 2004 Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley