Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Students supported during ‘Coming-Out Week’

Rio Hondo’s Gay Straight Alliance Club (GSA) collaborated with the Associated Student Body (AS) to host a three day “National Coming Out Week” event Oct. 15-17.

The festivities kicked off with the Pride Walk on Monday where brave students hung brief summaries of their “coming out” story for people to read in front of the Student Union building.

The process of “coming out” generally refers to the first time that individuals who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual announce to someone their sexual orientation. It is often a significant and emotional moment that sometimes alters the dynamics of important relationships.
The summaries given by Rio Hondo students ranged from comical “coming out” moments that took place while intoxicated to serious family conversations. Allies, which are heterosexuals who openly support gays also hung statements.

During the second day the mood was very light and playful. A DJ played party mixes in the Lower Quad, while AS members handed out free hot dogs, and the GSA sold Jamba Juice to raise money. There was also free rapid HIV testing that was offered.

Story continues below advertisement

In addition to this, ASB Senator at Large, David Mitchell, went around conducting “marriage ceremonies.” The couples, or in some cases triples, repeated vows, gave each other plastic rings, and received a Rio Hondo marriage certificate signed by Mitchell. The newlyweds then ended the ceremony with an embrace, which was different for each party.

If that wasn’t enough already, the highlight of the second day was most definitely the Drag Queens, who stole the show. The males who put on make-up and dressed as females, lip-sung Madonna and Christina Aguilera hits all while dancing seductively in front of the huge crowd that gathered between classes. One Drag Queen even went around to members of the crowd and started dancing on them while the crowd cheered wildly. After the lively performances, students participated in mini-games such as musical chairs to win prizes.
The third and final day titled “Empty Closets, Full of Life,” featured a series of speakers who discussed their “coming out” experience in detail. One of those speakers, Paul Hernandez, 19, shared history with El Paisano.

It all started when he was 15-years-old. His secret boyfriend of four years had just passed away, and Paul was experiencing heavy emotional turmoil. Before his boyfriend passed, he made a promise to him that he would come out of the closet. He often felt that he had to put on an act in front of everyone and couldn’t truly be himself except among a few close friends.
The first people he decided to come out to were his siblings. He felt that if he had their support, it would be easier to tell his parents. Paul, who is the 4th oldest out of 15, gathered all his siblings in a room and delivered the big news. His oldest brother, who he had always looked up to, did not exactly react in the way that he expected. He was noticeably upset and even said that Paul was no longer related to him because he was gay. Luckily his older sister understood, saying that it was something that she had always known.

The next “coming out “moment happened between Paul and his parents. He was extremely nervous about telling his religious father, who saw eye to eye with one of Paul’s older brothers who was also gay and ended up committing suicide. This time around was different.
When Paul announced to his father that he was gay, he understood and said it was not a punishment. Instead, he felt that it would give him the opportunity to really get to know Paul and be his friend.

Although Paul’s road started out rocky, he says that the situation with his family is improving, and even states that coming out “was the best choice I ever made.” He felt a deep sense of relief and no longer feels the need to act a certain way or impress people. There exists a deeper meaning to “National Coming Out Week, “that might not be visible on the surface. GSA President Andrew Quinones says he wants people who are afraid of “coming out,” to “feel okay with who they are… “I know that there have been people who are denying it, or are ashamed and afraid to come out. We’re doing this so people can realize that there are people that care, people that are here to help you, through anything…”

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All comments are subject to review.
All El Paisano Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest