Salisbury University students celebrated National Coming Out Day in Red Square Oct. 11 at the "Stuffed with Pride" event.
The event was a collaboration between the Student Organization for Activity Planning and the LGBTQA Alliance to celebrate Pride Week. Students created their own stuffed pride-themed toys, and they were given the options of creating either a rainbow or a unicorn.
SOAP member Sean Robinson played a role in conducting the event and felt that the hands-on activity would draw in a good crowd from the SU community.
“Essentially, it’s like a Build-A-Bear experience,” Robinson said. “I think it’s a really good idea. A lot of people like to come by and get a stuffed animal that they’ve actually made.”
Robinson thought the event was a good way to celebrate the LGBTQ community. He emphasized the metaphorical role the event portrayed.
“I think it’s good to recognize how bold it is to actually [come out],” Robinson said.
"Stuffed with Pride" was held in recognition of National Coming Out Day. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Coming Out Day was started in 1988 at the March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. The holiday is meant to encourage the LGBTQ community to come out, spread awareness and promote equality.
National Coming Out Day works to encourage members of the LGBTQA+ community to come out and take pride in who they are as a person. The "Stuff with Pride" event aimed to provide a fun activity for students while raising money and awareness for the LGBTQ Alliance.
Former SOAP President and Salisbury University Graduate Assistant for Campus Programming and Student Wellness Diana Rapine likes to reach out to SOAP as a supportive alumni member, especially when the events are for a great cause.
“I think what’s really making it a collaboration is that we’re providing the stuffed animals free to students, but we are encouraging them to purchase from the LGBTQ bake sale,” Rapine said.
Rapine felt the event yielded a great turnout, and she was happy with the energy and enthusiasm brought forward by so many members of the SU community — regardless of their sexual orientation — who came out to the event in support of the LGBTQA community.
"It was cool to see that out of a world that sometimes seems full of hate, SU students were supportive and happy to support the pride event," Rapine said.
The event was also held to spread awareness to students about the 31st Annual National Coming Out Day. Sophomore Ebony Brooks did not know it was Coming Out Day before "Stuffed with Pride."
“I actually did not know it was Coming Out Day,” Brooks said. “The honest truth, I love free stuffed animals, and I feel like it’s for a good cause.”
Students also spoke about personal challenges as well as family and friends who have struggled with coming out. Brooks said the event made her think of her sister.
“I want to bring [a stuffed animal] home to my sister,” said Brooks. “I haven’t personally had to come out or anything, but I feel like my family and other people are really closed-minded. I know how my sister felt, and it was really hard for her. I feel like it’s important.”
Freshman Lids Hobbs thought that Coming Out Day and events like Stuffed With Pride serve as a safe environment for the LGBTQ community.
“I came because I support LGBT rights,” Hobbs said. “For me, Coming Out Day means a safe space for positive people."
SU freshman David Stitz saw Coming Out day as an opportunity for those struggling to come out.
“Some people never get the opportunity to come out comfortably,” Stitz said. “This gets the reminder to those who need it.
By NATASHA HAWKINS
Featured photos by Natasha Hawkins Images. Video courtesy of Diana Rapine.