Football games and coming out stories

What does Homecoming during Coming Out Week mean for Hamline queer students?

Emily Brown, Columnist

National Coming Out Day has been on Oct. 11 since 1988, and it is a time for the LGBTQIA+ community to celebrate who they are. A lot of times, especially on college campuses, Coming Out Day becomes Coming Out Week, and there are several events to celebrate queer pride. Hamline is no different. From Oct. 8 through the 12, Hamline will be celebrating Coming Out Week with Keynote speakers, ice cream socials, a coming out vigil and many more fun and educational activities.

However, there is another big week-long event the week of the eighth, and it is one of the biggest weeks of the entire school year. Homecoming Week.

I was never into Homecoming in high school. I wore my pajamas during Get Up and Go Day, suffered through an overcrowded pep rally and kept my head down during the rest of the week. But my attitude turned around completely when I heard about Hamline’s Homecoming celebrations. I want my free t-shirt, I’m excited for the Glow Hunt and I want to kick back at the Fall Feast. All these events are celebratory. They’re a celebration of the Piper Spirit and a coming home to another stressful but exciting year at Hamline.

National Coming Out Week is no exception to this week of celebration. But unlike Homecoming, it can be a bittersweet celebration. The queer community is celebrating the freedom to embrace who you are. It’s a week to celebrate everyone in the queer community and the freedom to be ourselves that we worked so hard to gain. Today, it is the norm to ask for someone’s pronouns on campus. But it wasn’t that way 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Hamline is just now starting to accommodate transgender and genderqueer students in this aspect. Although Hamline is a safe place for the queer community, homophobia and transphobia still exist on campus.

I was disappointed when I found out that Hamline scheduled Homecoming Week the same week as National Coming Out Week. The queer community has suffered years of adversity and was forced to take second violin to the straight community.

Because Homecoming is the same week, National Coming Out Week has been forced to spread out their events over two weeks. In some aspects, this could be a good thing. For example, we get two weeks of celebration. But the two weeks instead of one huge week of celebration leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Spreading out the events makes this celebration more diluted. National Coming Out Week 2018 is only having seven events; a week would be more than enough time to have seven events. I’d much rather have one compact week of Coming Out Week events. If it was that way, National Coming Out Week would feel stronger and more focused. Even though we get two weeks, it feels like both weeks are watered down, and the events might be missed if someone isn’t looking for them, whereas Homecoming is plastered all over campus.

National Coming Out Week is also useful in the sense that it creates an opportunity for everyone to be educated on the queer community and understand we exist. We deserve our own week to celebrate who we are without worrying about stepping on Homecoming’s toes.

I always viewed Homecoming as a celebration for the popular crowd. You have the big football game, Homecoming court and who has the most school spirit. It’s a celebration of sports, popularity and school spirit.

The actual point of Coming Out Week is for the queer community to be visible and celebrate who they are. For a queer person, the closet can be a very scary (even traumatic) place to be. This is the week that the queer community can celebrate being free from this possibly scary environment and be free as themselves. Having Homecoming take place on the same week as Coming Out Week defeats the purpose of the week.

Because Coming Out week is forced to take a backseat to Homecoming, the queer community is yet again shoved into the background and ignored.

We get one week of celebration of who we are. Is it too much to ask for Hamline to not impede on this week? Homecoming can be any week. Make it the week before or the week after. But not this week! This week has too much emotional weight and history to be covered up by football games and glow sticks.