ORONO, Maine — October 11, is National Coming Out Day. The day started in 1988 and now in 2019, the celebration has grown. It has evolved to a full week of events at the University of Maine.
On a rainy and windy Monday morning, where students and professors dragged their feet to morning classes, there was a rainbow of hope on the campus mall.
The first event of the week? A raising of the pride flag. Vice President of Student Life Doctor Robert Dana, Rob Jackson the Staff Associate of Diversity and Inclusion, and Jane Pappas a Graduate Assistant at the Rainbow Research Center gave remarks prior to the flag-raising.
The University of Maine will have all sorts of events this week, all on the focus of dealing with a challenging part of some people's lives. Here at the state’s flagship university, they promote a welcoming atmosphere.
“We are very lucky to be on a very accepting campus, we have full support on administration, usually we have nothing but support for our events which is wonderful,” Pappas said.
The idea of providing a home for everyone is one of the goals of the University.
“We believe every student has a home here at the University, and this is one of the places where students find a sense of connection,” Dana said.
The campus support stretches beyond the dorm rooms and academic buildings.
“I think we’re really lucky here in Orono, I think the community itself is incredibly supportive, I think whenever the community comes together for pride week, coming out week, any of these celebrations, or when something tragic happens, the first question we get is ‘how can we help?’ ‘What do we need?” Jackson added.
The focus on the LGBT community is also a point of emphasis for the week as those members who are more open about their life are here to welcome those with any questions, or concerns.
Jackson took a moment before unveiling the flag to remember those who were victims because of their identity, a harsh reminder for why equality for all people is still not a reality.
“The work still needs to be done in terms of providing equality for these folks, but I think more and more we’re seeing representations on campuses in businesses, in the media of those folks who for so long have been silenced and not felt that they had a voice," He said.
All the events this week are a build-up for Friday when National Coming Out day officially begins.