Students relate coming out stories

by Vivian Chung | 11/19/03 6:00am

A panel of eight current students shared their personal experiences on sexuality in a panel discussion entitled "DON'T Yell Fag from the Porch II" at Alpha Delta Fraternity yesterday.

Addressing a packed house, some panelists reviewed their personal coming-out stories while others spoke about their experiences with dealing with GLBT issues on sports team and in the Greek system.

Before coming to Dartmouth, some panelists didn't realize "there was a world outside heterosexuality," said Kate Huyett '05.

Other panelist said they only realized that they could relate to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer issues when they arrived on campus, but were still reluctant to come out of the closet.

Taica Hsu '06 realized that college was the place where people could "reinvent themselves" and "show their true colors." However he said he decided not to come out in the beginning and remained "closeted" most of his freshmen year.

Chelsea Voake '06 spoke about how she felt that the "question of sexuality is so irrelevant to one's definition" as a person. She gave the example of how strange it would be to introduce yourself along with your sexuality.

Voake also said she didn't tell people about her sexuality because she "didn't want to be that girl," commenting that there is "still a stigma to it." Voake urged the audience to "take the time to find out who the person really is before you label them."

Huyett also discussed labeling, noting that she would like to "see us put people less in boxes."

Some panelists described the experience of coming out to their families. Hsu said the response from his father was that "he didn't accept it and can never accept it," while other panelists reported positive and supportive reactions.

The panelists urged the audience not to use derogatory language aimed at GLBTQ people.

Robin Rathmann-Noonan '05 said "tolerance is a horrible word" because an attitude that "I know you're different and I'll tolerate you" isn't enough.

Rathmann-Noonan also said that "spaces that are comfortable for people who are different is where we should all feel comfortable." She described spaces that are not tolerant as "not spaces any of us should be comfortable in." All of us, gay or straight, should desire to "make a safer place for all of us" Rathmann-Noonan said.

Some panelist discussed the experience of coming out on a sports team. Others acknowledged that in some teams, it would be hard for closeted gays to feel comfortable due to the lack of experience and knowledge of GLBTQ issues amongst members.

A question and answer section with the audience followed the panel discussion. Members of the audience discussed the Greek system, and how many fraternities exhibited a strong sense of masculinity, observing that GLBTQ people might not feel comfortable at Greek houses.

Alternatively, members of the panel and the audience also spoke about their own experiences at their Greek houses, recalling how supportive their brothers or sisters have been.

The panel discussion was presented by Alpha Delta in conjunction with the Men's Project.

A previous discussion with the same title was also held at AD in October of 2000 as part of an effort to build bridges between the "queer community" and heterosexuals on campus.

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