In honor of LGBT History Month, the University of La Verne held its first Coming Out Vigil last Thursday at the Chapel.
Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day. With the help of University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner and adjunct writing professor Katrina Sire, the Coming Out Vigil was a ceremony to celebrate the courage of coming out.
“There is an absence of queer space and culture on campus, which makes it difficult for people to come out,” Wagoner said.
“Knowing our history helps our community know its mistakes.”
Wagoner explained how the ceremony was a time for the La Verne community to come together and reflect on what kind of community they want to be a part of.
Wagoner played a song called “The Rock Will Wear Away” by Holly Near.
The specific lyrics she pointed out were, “Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone, splashing, breaking, dispersing in air, weaker than the stone by far but be aware. That as time goes by the rock will wear away.”
It explained the imagery of the rocks and water on the table. The rock represents all the hardships society has created for the LGBT community and the water represents everyone fighting in support of the LGBT community.
Students and faculty in the audience were asked to share their thoughts and stories and answer Zandra’s question the kind of community they want to be a part of. Then they were invited to pour water on the rocks as a symbol of their fight for the LGBT community.
Al Clark, professor of humanities, was the first to come up and share his story. He explained how his brother-in-law and son are both gay.
His son came out in college. One day they were sitting having a meal when his son started talking about someone named Ben. Clark asked who Ben was, and he said that Ben was his boyfriend.
“I want to have a community where no one wants to have to come out accidentally,” Clark said. “Maybe it would have been easier for my son that way.”
Junior art history major Liam Machado came up to tell his story how coming to the University of La Verne changed his life.
“I’m not certain who I am,” Machado said. “Coming to La Verne I met new friends and explored relationships and sexuality, and I just learned to love people because of who they are as people first and foremost not by sexuality or gender.”
Senior public relations major Cassie Holloway shared her story about three lesbian women in her large Mexican Catholic family. She is an ally and her love for them never changed, but for the rest of her family it caused strains.
“Someone’s blood should accept them first before anyone else,” Holloway said. “If they can’t be accepted by their own family, how would they have the courage to be accepted within society?”
Pins given to the audience were designed by Machado were given after the ceremony. They had Leo Pride in rainbow colored letters and symbolized, “May your voice build the community you want to be in.”
The vigil was followed by an art exhibit reception in the West Gallery on the second floor of the Campus Center. The exhibit, titled “The Child and the Archive: Locating a Queer Past to Establish a Queer Present,” featured materials documenting aspects of LGBT experiences primarily in Los Angeles.
Annabel Secaida can be reached at email@example.com.
In the original version of the story “Vigil celebrates LGBT community” (Oct. 17), Liam Machado was mistakenly identified as an ally. Machado actually identifies himself as part of the LGBTQ community. The Campus Times regrets the error.