The LGBT Resource Center has launched two new programs this fall – a mentoring program to connect students with LGBT guides and a speakers bureau.
The new mentoring program offers students a confidential, one-on-one relationship with a guide, aiming to soften the challenges of coming out, community-building and self-acceptance. LGBT members of GW faculty, staff and the administration serve as mentors.
Jessie Kelly, assistant programming coordinator at the University’s LGBT Resource Center, will serve as a mentor. Ashley-Lynn Goldstein | Hatchet photographer
Jessie Kelly, assistant programming coordinator at the University’s LGBT Resource Cente, said in light of recent LGBT hate crimes and tragedies, the tone of National Coming Out Week will focus on showing even more support for LGBT students at GW.
“There’s been a lot of media attention [on the tragedies] but the sad thing is, suicides among LGBTs is unfortunately not anything new,” Kelly said, referencing the suicide of a Rutgers University student, who was outed by his roommate through an unknown video of his sexual encounters with another male. “Hopefully with the new media attention people will start to act more.”
Allied in Pride – an LGBT student organization – joined the LGBT Resource Center this week to commemorate National Coming Out Week, a nationwide effort to spread awareness, education and support for individuals who come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The weeklong series of events at GW, lasting from Oct. 11 to Oct. 15, includes speakers, seminars on coming out, “Will and Grace” screenings and a trip to the popular gay dance club Town.
Allied in Pride President Michael Komo said National Coming Out Week represents an occasion to celebrate diversity.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to take a public stand to support LGBT youth, because of the recent tragedies, to show that they are valued and they are cared about,” Komo said.
Kicking off the weeklong series of events, keynote speaker Cheryl Jacques – a former president of the Human Rights Campaign and Massachusetts’s first openly gay state senator – told students they are not facing a unique challenge.
“We’re writing another chapter in the book of civil rights,” Jacques said. “We’ve been here before in this country.”
Jacques said there is a “pattern of animosity this country has perpetually had toward people who are new or different,” discussing the women’s rights movement and telling stories about discrimination toward the Irish.
“Equality for gay Americans will be achieved,” Jacques said. “It’s not a question of if, it’s only a question of when.”