Section: News

National Coming Out Day talk mixes history with personal anecdotes

On Oct. 8, Ramona Peel, a lead trainer from Equitas Health, brought a conversation about the history and the complexities of coming out to the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater.

The talk occurred three days before the official date of National Coming Out Day, Oct.11, as that day fell during October break.

Peel spoke about her experience coming out later in life, highlighting the complexities and continuous nature of her journey. In a talk punctuated with jokes and Star Wars references, Peel told her story of growing up with an unnamable discomfort, eventually coming out in her 30s to her family and friends but then returning to the closet. She came out again five years later and now publicly identifies as a bisexual trans woman, though she acknowledges the fluidity of those labels.

For many students in attendance, Peel’s nuanced discussion of the complexities of coming out and National Coming Out Day resonated deeply. Her comments about the importance of not outing people were especially powerful to Toby McCabe ’21.

“[Coming out] is something that is unique to each person and is something that’s dependent on a lot of factors,” he said. “Someone who’s out in one situation might not be out in another, so outing people without their prior permission can cause a lot of problems for them moving forward.”

McCabe was also happy to see the high number of attendees. “While this wasn’t the first event we had for LGBT history month, it really felt kind of like a kickoff, like, ‘Hey, we’re here and we’re ready to have a dialogue about what it means to be queer on Kenyon’s campus.’”

At the beginning of the month, Unity House and Adelante co-hosted a showing of Paris is Burning in the Wright Center in downtown Mount Vernon, an event attended by community members and even students from Denison University. Along with these events, an upcoming screening of Tom of Finland co-hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, along with a Kenyon Review podcast episode on queer literature, will round out the celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month. Next Tuesday during Common Hour, Eric Marcus, the founder and host of the popular Making Gay History podcast, will give the month’s keynote address in the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater.

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