Upper school celebrates National Coming Out Day to honor LGBTQ+ community

GSA+club+adviser+Abel+Olivas+holds+sheets+of+rainbow+smiley+face+stickers+in+his+hands+in+front+of+Manzanita.+Members+of+GSA+handed+out+stickers+during+lunch+as+a+way+to+support+the+LGBTQ%2B+community.

Ananya Sriram

GSA club adviser Abel Olivas holds sheets of rainbow smiley face stickers in his hands in front of Manzanita. Members of GSA handed out stickers during lunch as a way to support the LGBTQ+ community.

by Ananya Sriram and Michelle Liu

Members of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) handed out stickers emblazoned with a rainbow smiley face in front of Manzanita Hall and the quad as a way during lunch to support the LGBTQ+ community on National Coming Out Day. Students and faculty wore these stickers as a way to signal allyship and celebrate National Coming Out Day Monday.

First celebrated in the United States in 1988 and founded by psychologist Richard Eichberg and gay rights activist Jean O’Leary, National Coming Out Day supports all members of the LGBTQ+ community and honors the act of “coming out,” which is when a member of the LGBTQ+ community publicly shares their sexual orientation or gender identification. 

“Coming out can be a really difficult experience, especially if you happen to come from a family or a specific community that isn’t traditionally supportive of that,” GSA co-president Aniket Singh (11) said. “We just want to celebrate people that were brave enough to come out and those who are still not able to come out yet, because it takes bravery to come out or to stay in the closet.” 

This year, President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office prohibiting the discrimination of people based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace. Biden also signed an executive order to reverse the ban on transgender Americans joining the military, allowing all certified Americans to serve. 

“Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self,” President Biden said in a statement from the White House on Monday.

It seemed to me that LGBTQ+ kids felt very affirmed by this. Watching people easily take the sticker and watching people walking around with stickers made them feel really supported and respected.”

— Abel Olivas, GSA club adviser

Self-identification as part of the LGBTQ+ community has become increasingly common over the years. In 2021 alone, multiple celebrities have come out, such as dancer and Nickelodeon star Jojo Siwa who came out as pansexual, singer Demi Lovato who came out as pansexual, and actor Ronen Rubinstein who came out as bisexual. On Monday, DC comics has also had new superman Jonathan Kent come out as bisexual, revealing him to be in a relationship with a male reporter, Jay Nakamura, in the upcoming issue of the comic. 

Due to remote learning, this was the first time in over a year that the GSA has had the chance to take part in the annual tradition of passing out stickers on National Coming Out Day. GSA club adviser, upper school Spanish teacher and Modern and Classical Languages Department Head Abel Olivas, spoke on the important impact created when students chose to wear stickers in celebration of this day. 

“It seemed to me that LGBTQ+ kids felt very affirmed by this,” Olivas said. “Watching people easily take the sticker and watching people walking around with stickers made them feel really supported and respected. I felt good too, just being out there on the quad and seeing all these rainbows.”

Handing out stickers was one step in creating a welcoming environment on the Harker campus. GSA hopes to lay the groundwork with outreach and community events, but its ultimate goal is to raise full awareness on accepting the LGBTQ+ community for who they are so that students feel completely safe in staying true to themselves.   

“I hope that National Coming Out Day gives members of our community who are closeted or questioning a sense of solidarity and acceptance,” GSA member Joelle Weng (10) said. “However, I do believe that true equality or liberation would mean moving away from the concept of coming out.”

As a continuation of National Coming Out Day celebrations and in honor of October as LGBT History Month, GSA will be presenting a National Coming Out Day speech at school meeting on Oct. 28.