The most visible sign of this support came Thursday, October 11 from the hundreds of rainbow ribbons worn by HBS students as part of National Coming Out Day (NCOD), sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Association (LGBTSA).
Other activities of the day included an e-mail sent to all sections explaining the event and candy and information handed out during lunch at Spangler Grille. Students could also fill out LGBT trivia sheets to win a prize up to $100. One question asked, “In how many states is ‘sexual orientation’ not protected by nondiscrimination housing and employment laws?” (Answer: 36)
NCOD, which began with a 1988 march in Washington, DC to support gay and lesbian rights, is held every October 11th in schools and organizations across the U.S. The event raises awareness for the gay community and strives to empower gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied Americans to live openly and honestly.
Matt Dunn (OF), this year’s organizer, commented on how the event relates to overall diversity at HBS. “In addition to giving visibility to the LGBT community, which is relatively small and not always visible, National Coming Out Day is one of the first campus-wide ‘diversity awareness’ events of the school year. It can really help set the tone for addressing diversity topics, particularly for RC sections.”
This sentiment was echoed by Lauren Mehler (NE): “HBS is so diverse that sometimes diversity itself falls into the background. We should remember that many people still struggle to be themselves and how important it is for us to continually support each other.”
Many LGBT RC students chose to e-mail or speak to their sections about their personal experiences.
Straight students also used the day to express support for their LGBT counterparts. Along with her LGBT classmates, Liz Whitman (NB) spoke in section about what NCOD meant to her. She notes, “As an ally, and someone who has had numerous close gay friends and colleagues, I felt it was extremely important for me to stand up and emphasize that this event doesn’t have to be a political issue, but rather an opportunity to learn, discuss, and celebrate. I certainly had a few sectionmates probe me on my involvement, which I saw as another step in the right direction.”
For more information about the LGBTSA, HBS students can visit //www.studentclubs.hbs.edu/lgbt/ or e-mail co-presidents Evan Horowitz [OA] or Chris Pierce [OD].
John Wright is a contributing writer and member of the LGBTSA.