The Office for Inclusive Excellence (OIE) and Campus Recreation collaborated Thursday for a march to celebrate Friday’s National Coming Out Day. It was the second year in a row that the Stride for Pride was held.
Guided by rainbow flags stuck in the ground, the walk began in front of the Smith Student Center and continued to Morrow Field House. The walk would pass Spotts World Culture Building, ATS and the Bailey Library.
Erin O’ Connor, a graduate assistant in the Women’s Center and Pride Center, said the event was held to bring recognition to the day in a fun and interactive way.
“We are holding it in recognition and support of members of our LGBT community on campus and the larger population, as well as giving allies a chance to come and support those,” O’ Conner said.
The concept of the walk was thought of last year by Jodi Solito, the previous director of the Pride Center, and Keshia Booker, the assistant director of the OIE.
“This year, we decided to change it a little and shift it even further, so thinking about what some gaps from last year were and growing it from there,” O’ Connor said.
Rather than just mentioning on-campus services available to students who need them, as the organizers of the march did last year, they were brought to the event to speak for themselves. Resources such as the counseling center, President’s Commission on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation (GISO) and RockOUT came to talk to students.
“I think it shows that there are people on this campus who do care,” O’ Conner said. “With so much hate going on right now and a Supreme Court case taking place to see if sexual orientation and identity will be protected, I think it’s good to feel that support and that care by those close to you and those in our own campus community.”
O’ Connor said that a lot of students don’t recognize the importance of National Coming Out Day and are unaware that the LGBT community on campus is ever-growing.
O’ Connor added, “Someone can say it, but going and actually attending an event and showing that [embrace] is another step further, saying, ‘I’m committed to supporting this community.’”