College community comes out

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College community comes out

Mary McKiel, Campus Life Editor

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AACC recognized National Coming Out Week with a week-long series of talks on campus.

Talks ranged from topics of sexual health to the need for LGBT allies.  A total of 11 talks were planned. Two events were cancelled.  Dr. Richard Otten, coordinator of the week’s activities, said scheduled presenters fell ill and activists expected to speak had to tend to other commitments related to the election season.

AACC alumna Patricia Smiley talked about her experience as a transgender lesbian and the impact her transition has had on her relationships with family and friends.

“You have to be living as your identified gender for at least one year,” she told the audience. “You need letters from two therapists, confirming you know what you are doing, and then it’s about $40,000 [for procedures.]”

Gene Kelly, a diversity and social justice consultant, gave two presentations during the week, touching on the need for allies in the LGBT community and how society creates the concept of gender.

“I came out in 1999, but it took me about five or six years to realize that I was white,” Kelly said,  noting that LGBT women and minorities are more prone to jeers and criticism than white males.

“It was very in-depth to have that personal experience,” said a student who attended Kelly’s presentation and  asked to remain anonymous. “I do think it definitely helped my class have a better, personal view of someone’s coming-out experience.”

The speakers encouraged students to accept everyone as equals, and to donate to local organizations that support the LGBT cause.