Students, Faculty, and Staff ‘Come Out’ to the Columns in Honor of National Coming Out Day
BY MATT MCCORMACK AND COURTNEY GALLAGHER
STAFF WRITER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF
The Alliance lit up the columns in rainbow colors at Westminster’s first annual Pride event on Oct. 11 in honor of “National Coming Out Day” and to celebrate June’s Supreme Court ruling to allow same-sex marriage in every state.
While students, faculty, and staff gathered on the hill to hear stories from Westminster’s LGBTQ community and their allies, they played an active role in Westminster’s Alliance.
“All of you here tonight are coming out as an ally,” said Jamie Haskins, chaplain, director of spiritual life, and co-adviser for the Alliance.
Dr. Nate Leonard, English professor and co-adviser for the Alliance, said the purpose of the event was to allow people to be themselves. Leonard, who said he was been an ally for as long as he could remember, added that there is a right to the “ability to live the life you want to live, wherever you want to live it, with the people you want to live it with.”
Vice President and Dean of Student Life Stephanie Krauth said the night was to celebrate the stories that may have not been heard.
“Events like these need to happen all the time,” she said.
The event’s speakers also included Dr. Lisa Fein, a sociology professor who has researched those who are transgender and transgender queer. Fein said she became interested in researching those within this community after discovering there were members of her own family who never came out.
“My heart breaks for them,” she said.
After the introductions, Haskins shared her coming out story. She explained the process of spending several hours working up the courage to tell her father she was dating a woman. Haskins told the audience she was 22 years old at the time and home for Christmas break. She told the audience how she finally explained to her father how much he would like the person she was dating, and said, “but she’s a girl. Is that okay?” Haskins said her dad was surprised, and he said that it would take time to get used to it, but that he would get used to it and was happy if she was happy.
Nick Hardeman, ’18, then discussed the challenges he experienced in high school. Hardeman said he was called a faggot during his first year of high school in Spanish class, and he disclosed his sexual orientation to his parents during his senior year of high school.
Hardeman said that he didn’t want to make his speech so much about himself as a homosexual, but rather, how people can be their true selves. He said he was not sure if Westminster was the right fit for him while searching colleges, but since becoming a student, felt a “vibe” of acceptance on campus. He closed his speech by saying, “I feel like being gay or LGBTQ in general is a gift.”
As the Pride event progressed, Dr. Cinnamon Brown, associate professor of history, explained why she became an ally for the LGBTQ community. Brown said she has an older brother, Garrett, who came out as gay when Brown was a sophomore in high school. She said that when she went to college, she found comfort in the softball team, which had some lesbians on the team.
Keith Hardeman, speech professor and Nick Hardeman’s father, gave the perspective of a parent of someone who has come out. Hardeman said he has dealt with people wondering if the reason he has a gay son is because he didn’t take Nick to enough football games or go fishing enough times.
Students in attendance said they were moved by the event, its purpose, and its messages. Laura Whiltshire, ’16, said she especially appreciated Haskins’ message.
“If everyone had a Jamie Haskins in the world, there would be a lot less bigotry in the world,” Whiltshire said.