Yesterday, October 11, was National Coming Out Day. The holiday was founded in 1988 and was created to empower members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their decision to come out.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, the Rainbow Center, the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the Coming Out Monologues. The event featured several student stories and keynote speaker Gabby Rivera.
Five student speakers took turns at the microphone to tell their coming out stories. Their stories were deeply personal and left those in attendance with a sense of understanding. Many of the student stories centered around the idea of acceptance; whether it be acceptance of others, acceptance of family or even acceptance of self.
“It was really inspiring to see people like me, and people with stories to tell,” seventh-semester computer science engineering major, Alex Zaleski, said.
The keynote speaker for the Coming Out Monologues was Gabby Rivera. Rivera is an author who published the critically acclaimed novel “Juliet Takes a Breath,” and is currently a writer for Marvel Comics. Rivera is the writer for the comic “America,” which features Marvel’s first Latina lesbian superhero, America Chavez.
Like the students that came before her, Rivera discussed her coming out experience. Rivera was hilarious and welcoming during her talk, but was sure to address the serious issues. She discussed how her family reacted to her coming out and she used her experiences as inspiration for her novel “Juliet Takes a Breath.” Rivera even read an excerpt from her novel that contained the title character’s own coming out story.
“She was really good at making it a queer space, and making it about her identity and including people and making people comfortable. She was really relatable.” Zaleski said.
Rivera was also sure to mention her experience as a writer for Marvel Comics. When Rivera was announced as the writer for the “America” comic series, she received a noticeable amount of praise for being a lesbian Latinx writer for a lesbian Latina superhero.
Rivera discussed how these identities she had been attacked for in the past were now being celebrated. She was also quick to note that much of this praise was done in part to make the publications seem trendy and socially aware.
Weston Henry, a fifth-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major, thought that it was important that Rivera was discussing how companies and the media only praise members of the LGBTQIA+ community when it benefits them.
“She was willing to really talk about all the systems and everything that [is] in place these days,” Henry said.
The floor was opened for a quick question and answer session, where audience members took advantage of the opportunity to ask Rivera about intersectionality in the LGBTQIA+ community, how to deal with writer’s block, the differences between writing novels and comics, whether she bases her characters on real life people and how she advocates for her art.
Rivera ended her talk with her thoughts on coming out.
“If that’s something that you have to do… to live well and be vibrant, do what you must,” Rivera said.
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.