Let’s Talk About “Coming Out.”

It’s National Coming Out Day, so you may expect to see a blog about all the reasons that coming out is awesome. You may expect to see me encouraging people to come out en masse. But I am not going to do that.

Things I think:

It’s fucked up that there is pressure on queer people to “come out” regardless of what circumstances they are facing in their lives.

It’s fucked up that people are outed without their consent.

It’s fucked up that there is this idea that there is a state of “being in the closet” and being “out” as if they are two starkly different positions. People are very rarely “out” to everyone in their lives, and so it’s hard to distinguish what “out” really means.

I think it’s fucked up that coming out has been built up into this mandatory step in queer peoples’ lives, as if they can’t truly be queer until they start telling people.

You do NOT need to “come out” to be queer. If you identify as queer or lesbian or gay or pansexual or any of those other identities, then you are. And telling other people about that does not automatically make it any more legitimate.

Some people feel awesome after coming out.

For some people, coming out is really important, and it can be liberating.

Life can get a lot harder for some people when they come out.

Sometimes coming out is not in a person’s best interest, either because it could jeopardize their job, family relationships, or safety.

It can be really encouraging to have people around you come out, whether they are friends, family, or even celebrities. And that can lead to more “acceptance” (whatever that means) of queer people. And if you come out, you can in turn inspire people around you.

Here is what I ultimately think: only you are an expert in your life, and so you are the only person who should have ultimate say in the whens, hows, and whos of coming out. Some people will say that coming out is the biggest moment of being queer. I strongly disagree. I think that you can come to terms with being queer, love yourself as a queer person, and never tell another living soul. It’s all about what feels right for you, and you shouldn’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

– Jessica


Q Center Birthday Blog: We Need Technology!

The Q Center turns seven years old today, and a lot has changed since our doors opened in 2005. We now have Jennifer Self as our full time director, more students across the campus are accessing the center as a safe space, and Lavender Graduation, which started as three graduating seniors, now averages over fifty graduates.

One thing that has not changed, however, is the technology that we utilize in the center. The space purchased four brand new Dell desktops in 2005 when the center opened, and those are the computers that we have been working with ever since. Two of these computers crashed in 2009, and last week we said farewell to another of our desktop computers. We’re now working with one temperamental Dell desktop from 2005 for all the students accessing the center. This presents a huge challenge for the folks who access this space. Students often come in to use the computers and are unable to because the one we have is already taken. Many people ask to print out an essay or assignment and we have to deny them because the computer doesn’t have access to our printer.

We try to make due with what we have, but it has become more and more difficult. While it seems like many other facilities in UW are keeping up to date with technology, we are struggling to function with our vastly outdated equipment. The staff has to share one problematic laptop between themselves for work purposes, so many student staff members are dependent upon their personal laptops for getting work done. Our very small TV is also extremely outdated. The wonderful individuals who access our space should not be limited to using a single seven year old computer to fulfill all of their tech needs.

It seems that UW tries to present itself as cutting edge and sophisticated, and in many ways, it is. Places like the Law School or Business School have very new, nice equipment. Unfortunately, many students who identify as queer have trouble accessing these spaces out of discomfort and due to the very present oppressive, homophobic and transphobic attitudes that prevail in many parts of campus.

We’re not asking for a lot. We just want enough updated technology to FUNCTION effectively. Queer identities are not often valued or visible in institutional spaces. That we are forced to deal with inadequate technology might come across as UW not acknowledging the importance of accessing technology in a space that values queer identities.

We are requesting four Dell desktop computers, speech recognition software to provide accessibility to individuals with physical and learning disabilities, a screen reader for individuals with visual impairment, a DVORAK right handed keyboard, and a 46″ TV.

There is a way that YOU can help us get updated technology at the Q Center! Give us the invaluable birthday present of support in our quest to get updated equipment in our center. Follow this link and leave a comment on the page about why you think the Q Center should have new equipment.

http://techfee.washington.edu/proposals/view/2011-096-1/

Jessica Warmbo
Q Center Staff and School of Social Work Student