Photos by Allison Nekola
Michelle Burke – Copy Editor
PRIDE’s President, Alex Turner, encouraged students to share their stories of coming out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Pansexual to their friends and families. All participants referenced the difficulties of coming out relating to religion, marriage, and the fear of family rejection, as well as what is means to define someone as gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. Turner began by telling his own story, explaining how he came out as bisexual and eventually transgender, meaning he identifies as a man. He described the feeling of coming out to his family as a “weight being lifted off [his] shoulders.”
The speeches continued with club members, including a speech from the Vice President of PRIDE, Emily Kesslinger. She spoke about how she doesn’t like to label her sexuality, and said, “just love who you love.” She also said she continues to struggle with remembering the preferred gender pronouns of her transsexual friends, making others realize acceptance of one another is what matters.
Communications officer of PRIDE, Vanessa Pereira, told audience members “Sometimes you think coming out is going to be worse than it actually is,” and encouraged others to be strong and positive. She refers to herself as pansexual, a new phrase to the audience meaning she is attracted to personalities, not genders.
Once the PRIDE members spoke, Turner opened the floor to anyone in the audience wanting to share a story. Freshman Mylette Beerman, referencing herself as a pansexual, told the audience how difficult it was growing up as someone who had her first girlfriend in seventh grade and then a boyfriend throughout high school.
The juggle between genders wasn’t just confusing to her peers but to Beerman as well. After years of struggling to come out to her family and friends, she simply defines herself as someone who “loves everyone… I love people.”