An array of acceptance


On Friday, Katie Jepsen, a senior, stood on stage on the UW-Eau Claire campus mall, with a rainbow flag waving as her backdrop, and told her coming out story.

Jepsen came out as pansexual in June, which is an attraction to people instead of gender, but the event was her first time publicly coming out.

“Part of it was just liberating for me because it had been so long that I was struggling with this,” Jepsen said. “It was kind of just this big moment of my life because I have wanted to publicly come out ever since I did come out. It was kind of a big
step for me.”

National Coming Out Day is an annual event that celebrates coming out and raises awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement.

The event was founded in 1988 and is celebrated on Oct. 11, the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

The campus celebrations included musical performances by Fifth Element, Impromptu, Audacious and Innocent Men along with personal coming out stories. There were also speeches from Dean of Students Joseph Abhold, Chancellor James Schmidt and Assistant Director for Leadership and Education
Quincy Chapman.

Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Chris Jorgenson said he was really happy with the amount of students who shared their stories and the proud display of LGBTQ           support the university displayed.

“To have (the flag) presented in such an unapologetic and visible way, it can be very powerful and in fact is very powerful to many students,” Jorgenson said.

There were four students scheduled to share and to encourage other people to share their stories throughout the day, but 20 to 30 students took the stage.

Jepsen, an intern for the Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center, said she put herself on the schedule right away because she wanted to share.

“Right before I went on I was really nervous just because public speaking can be nerve wracking and telling a public story is really nerve wracking,” Jepsen said, “But I’m really, really happy that I did it.”

Each year the event has had more and more student organizations set up booths during the event.

“We had like 26 student organizations show up,” Jepsen said. “I think everyone had really positive attitudes about it and everyone was really great and supportive.”

Jorgenson said it was particularly exciting to have the administration make speeches in support of the campus LGBTQ community.

Dean of Students Joseph Abhold said he wanted to speak to be clear that the dean of students office is in place to support all students on campus.

“We are here to help create a safe and positive nurturing campus environment where they can do their best and be embraced by the campus community,” Abhold said.

Jepsen’s friends and family stood by and watched her tell her story, and everyone got a bit emotional, Jepsen said. She also said it was a very accepting environment on the campus mall, and she is very happy with her decision to stand on stage publicly coming out.

“It felt amazing.”