AACC GSA members talk coming out

Shelby Vetter, Reporter

Members of AACC’s Gay-Straight Alliance discussed coming out as LGBTQ during an open panel on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Fifth-year engineering major and PR chair of GSA Nick Nadeau, along with others from the club, shared personal experiences with coming out, transitioning and more topics.

Nadeau, who came out last year on Oct. 24th, said his mom and friends already knew, it was just a matter of him being ready to say it.

“Life’s too short to hide and not be yourself,” said Nadeau.

Alliance member Mitch Noone-Meng, a third-year transfer studies student, discussed his experience growing up realizing he was transgender, and brought his father, AACC English professor Dave Meng, to speak from a parent’s perspective.

“I didn’t realize I was trans until the summer before 9th grade,” Noone-Meng said.

But he said he started feeling acceptance when his 8th grade gym teacher supported him going to the boys side of the gym during gender-based activities.

Many students, however, face challenges coming out to friends or family.

First-year psychology major Garret Hutchinson has been open about his sexual orientation for the past nine years.

But he comes from a very religious background in South Carolina, and many of his early struggles revolved around the church.

“From an early age, I knew that I liked guys” said Hutchinson, “but then when I came to the realization that homosexuality is looked down upon and is actually viewed as a sentence to hell in my religion, it tore me apart inside.”

Hutchinson said he had a revelation after fighting many internal battles.

He said it was as if he heard God tell him, “I don’t care that you’re gay. I don’t care what you call yourself because you’re mine.”

Erica Romero, a first-year studio arts major, said although she is open about her sexual orientation, she chooses not to label herself.

“I knew at first when I was in 7th grade and I was sitting next to my best friend, and I was like, ‘Oh no, I think I like her.'”

Romero said coming out to her mother was tough at first. Despite her mother having LGBTQ friends, Romero said it seemed as if she wasn’t okay with her own daughter being gay.

Eventually, she said, her mother came around.

GSA members all said AACC’s campus has been welcoming to the LGBTQ community —one professor, according to Noone-Meng, even going above and beyond to get the student’s name changed on the Canvas website from his legal name to the one he prefers.