Pride without prejudice
When rain started pouring on Brandeis on Oct. 11, it drenched the hundreds of rainbow flags that decorated campus. It was National Coming Out Day, memorialized at Brandeis by “Pride Deis,” a daylong event for LGBTQ+ community at Brandeis to celebrate and be celebrated.
Pride Deis was initially proposed by Guillermo Caballero ’20, the vice president of the Student Union, because “there isn’t a specific day where we remember LGBTQ+ students or the community overall at Brandeis, because the [national] Pride Day is in June, when almost no one is here.” Reflecting on the LGBTQ+ community on campus, Caballero said, “They are definitely here. But speaking for myself, I don’t feel like we are a cohesive community. I am not saying in a negative way, but it’s just we don’t have a place where all LGBTQ+ identities come together.” Propelled by that, the main goal of the Pride Deis event was to “show [LGBTQ+ students] that they are not only welcomed and supported, but are celebrated by the student body and Brandeis as a whole,” according to Caballero. Another goal of the event was to foster communication among LGBTQ+ students.
Facilitated by a collaborative effort by the Student Union, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center, the event was visible throughout campus from the rainbow flags along campus paths to the rainbow tattoos given out to students at tables in Usdan throughout the morning. Despite the unexpected rain, the event received “positive reaction from the campus,” said Caballero. “A lot of people were very happy, as I saw. Many people posted it on Instagram and took pictures. While we were putting the flags down, people were like, ‘This is so great!’”
The event lasted all day and culminated in a closing ceremony for LGBTQ+ students and allies at the GSC. At the event, five students, including Caballero, spoke about their personal experiences as members of the queer community. Many of them talked about the conservatism in their backgrounds and the social norms that made it difficult to accept their sexualities. Feelings of loneliness and the journey to self-acceptance were among the key topics of their speeches. One student spoke about a friend being locked in her home after coming out to her family, an example of the hardships LGBTQ+ individuals often encounter in coming out. At the same time, the student said there are still “ways to be resilient and to come out. It’s better to be in the light than the darkness.”
Another one of the students stressed that “coming out is your own process and your own stages, so you don’t have to rush anything.” The student also emphasized the “phenomenal support” the GSC provides, and invited students to participate more in GSC events. Caballero himself shared a story about creating an astronomy club for LGBTQ+ students back in high school, describing the intimacy within the group. He further expressed his hope as a senior that students from the Student Union and from other clubs would take on the event in the future and join in making this year’s Pride Deis “the first one but not the last.”
Following the National Coming Day, the GSC will also be holding an event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, to provide a space where LGBTQ+ students can communicate and get help with their coming out process.
— Editor’s Note: The names of students who spoke at the closing event are not included for privacy reasons, per a request by Caballero.