RHC celebrates LGBT and National Coming out Day

In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness, October also harbors Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) as well as “National Coming out Day” on Oct. 11, In celebration, the Associated Students of Rio Hondo hosted the first three events on Oct. 16, to kick off the month long “National Coming Out” event.

First, students gathered at the Rio Hondo Breezeway and walked together in “solidarity and equality”. The “Unity Walk” ended with a speech from Dr. Mike Munoz, the Associate Dean of Student Services here at Rio Hondo College. Munoz spoke on his own struggles and accomplishments as a homosexual man. He also voiced his fears and relief through his experience with “coming out” to his friends, family, and co-workers, as well as encouraged those afraid to open up about their sexual orientation. On stage along with Munoz stood a black door, symbolizing students “coming out of the closet”.

After Dr. Munoz spoke, the “Pride Fair” began in the Lower Quad. The fair contained many informative and festive booths. Students had the option to ask questions and learn more about the LGBT community; also, AltaMed provided free HIV testing. Planned Parenthood offered booklets and pamphlets regarding sexually transmitted diseases and how to practice safe sex; they passed out free condoms and mini hand sanitizers. Also during the fair, a face painting booth was available to students. Most got a peace sign, equality sign, or rainbow painted on their face, one student even got two Mrs. Pacmen in love painted on their cheek.

Gay Marriage still remains a big controversial topic, even though same sex marriage became legal in the state of California this past June. When asked his opinion on the significance of “National Coming out Day”, Hiram Castro, Senator of Cultural Diversity stated, “I believe it is important for students to be accepting of diversity and respecting all students no matter what their sexual orientation is.” So, to further promote equality to all peoples, the associated students provided “Marriage Booth” in which students could “marry” anyone of their choosing for that day. Both parties said vows to each other, exchanged rings, and each received a Rio Hondo “marriage license”. The next “Coming Out” events consist of the “Empty Closets, Full of Life” panel and discussion on Oct. 22, and a screening of the movie Milk on Oct. 30, all held in the Student Union.