October is LGBT+ History Month, which coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11th. LGBT+ History Month began in 1994 when Rodney Wilson, a history teacher in suburban St. Louis, came out to his students during a lesson about the Holocaust. He explained that if he had lived in Germany during World War II, he would have likely been imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis for being gay. This evolved into a much broader mission to teach young people about LGBT+ history.
The Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center is hosting a slew of events between October 7th-11th to celebrate Coming Out Week.
Monday, October 7th
- 12pm-2pm | SMC 202 — Faculty and Staff Lunch and Learn
- 6pm | SMC Reighard Multipurpose Room — “Lead with Pride” Kickoff Keynote with Guest Speaker Dr. Jon Paul Higgins
- 9pm | SMC Reighard Multipurpose Room — LGBT Lingo Bingo
Tuesday, October 8th
- 3pm-4:30pm | SMC Reighard Multipurpose Room — Coming Out Week Film: Mala Mala
- 6pm | SMC Promenade, Sponsored by CHEP — GSA Table at Purple Carnival
- 6pm-8pm | South Village Great Room — Courageous Conversations: Power and Privilege
Wednesday, October 9th
- 11am-1pm | SMC Robert L. Slabinski Atrium — OUT-a-Palooza
- 3pm-5pm | SMC 118 — LGBTQIA+ Affinity Meet Up
- 6pm | Meyers Auditorium, McComsey Hall — PCGSD Presents: Poetry Reading with Meg Day
- 8pm | SMC Reighard Multipurpose Room — Quick Drag 101
Thursday, October 10th
- 5pm-8pm | Student Memorial Center — Pridefest 2019
- 8pm (Doors open @ 7:30pm) | SMC Marauder Courts — 6th Annual Pridefest Drag Show featuring Nina West and Peppermint
Friday, October 11th
- 10am-2pm | SMC Robert L. Slabinski Atrium — National Coming Out Day – Paint with Pride!
October is also home to International Pronouns Day, which is celebrated on October 16th this year. International Pronouns seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns normal. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns affects transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Using peoples’ correct pronouns validates their identity, which is imperative for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Spirit Day is celebrated on October 20th this year. Observers wear purple as a visible sign of support for LGBT+ youth and to honor LGBT+ victims of suicide. LGBT+ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment, and wearing purple is a way to stand with them in solidarity. The murder of Matthew Shepard is also remembered this month. Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming who identified as gay. On October 6, 1998, he was brutally attacked and left to die but was thankfully discovered by a cyclist. He was transported to an advanced trauma ward in Colorado, but unfortunately, he passed away six days later.
While we celebrate and have fun this Coming Out Week, it’s important to remember that LGBT+ history is complex and intersectional. It’s a time to celebrate all that LGBT+ folks have accomplished and contributed, but it’s also a time to reflect on the continual fight the LGBT+ community faces for human rights.