Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Between Monday the 20th and Friday the 25th, Coming Out Week (COW) at Swarthmore will feature open and closed events centered on queer issues in the community. Sponsored by SQU, other queer student groups, and academic departments, Coming Out Week is run by the Coming Out Week Planning Committee aiming to spread and encourage awareness about Swarthmore’s queer community.
Lorenzo Ramirez ’10, member of the COW planning committee, describes COW as an opportunity to celebrate queerness on campus. Ramirez explains that, “Coming out week is a time to talk about questioning and coming out…this week allows us to celebrate our queerness and show people that we are more than just stereotypes.”
Coming back to campus, Swarthmore students, faculty members, and administrators encountered chalkings that ranged from witty expressions to inventive pictures. The chalkings all over campus are ways for queer students to express their feelings, attitudes, and opinions about queer issues important to them. Maria Kelly ’10, another member of the COQ committee explains that “everyone has a different story to tell and everyone has something different to say.”
Aside from the creative chalkings on campus, COW also hosts a series of open and closed events throughout the week to promote the queer community. This week’s workshops, discussions, and meetings hope to stimulate dialogue among queer and straight students, faculty, and administration. Kelly elaborates that students should use this week’s events as “a time to spark conversations and start those difficult conversations that people are afraid to ask some of their queer friends.”
This year’s COW events largely center on how queer students deal with their ethnic, religious, and gender identities. Events like Monday’s “Queer Intersection: A Student Panel” and Friday’s “ ‘Juggling Identities’ with Sara Felder” examines how queerness affects other facets of one’s identity. Kelly elaborates that these workshops and discussions are particularly important in “being able to see how my identity is played out at Swarthmore.”
Upcoming events for Thursday and Friday include book sales and closed discussions. On Thursday, Giovanni’s Room Book Sale in the Shane Lounge will feature and sell books on queer issues; closed events are a Queer Faculty/Staff/Student Luncheon and COLORS meeting for students who identify as queer and of color. On Friday, there are Queer Shabbat Services as well as the “Juggling Identities” event with queer actress Sara Felder.
Encouraging all Swatties to participate in these events, Ramirez reassures that “Swatties should not be afraid to attend meetings if they have questions, closed meetings are completely confidential.”
Ultimately, Coming Out Week serves to not only celebrate Swarthmore’s queer community, but also to promote queer tolerance and awareness for everyone. As Kelly explains, “This is a really important time to show the greater Swarthmore community about some of these issues about queerness…this is the one week where queerness is represented everywhere.”