Rainbow Roundtable President Julian Haas reminded his audience that this year’s National Coming Out Week theme “Endless Pride, Queer Forever” means that there is strength in numbers.
“If you feel weak or alone, one more person makes you feel infinitely stronger,” Haas (senior-sociology) said. “We are like bamboo. You can cut us down, poison us and trample us and we will come back stronger than before.”
In an hour’s time of speeches, chants and gathering, this year’s National Coming Out Week Rally, held in the HUB on Wednesday night, saw the largest crowd yet, Haas said.
Sponsored by the Penn State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally Student Alliance, the annual rally began with students chanting, “We are Penn State…We are not straight.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims was introduced as the first speaker of the rally and told the viewers why he was present.
When he was born in the 1950s, Sims said any organization of a gay rights operation could put the people involved in jeopardy.
As an ally of the LGBTA community, Sims said he was proud of the accomplishments Penn State has made, particularly with Penn State earning five stars out of five on the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index for the 10th consecutive year.
“We have some distance to go and have to stick together to ensure that communities are as LGBT-friendly as they can be,” Sims said.
Rainbow Roundtable Secretary Luke Roche took the microphone to speak to the audience about the worth of personal happiness.
Roche said he struggled to begin living for himself, regardless of what his family or friends thought of him.
“Be proud of who you are and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re less of a person,” Roche (junior-human development and family studies) said. “All of you standing here are worth more than you could ever imagine.”
After the speeches, the floor was opened up for anyone to walk on and say what was on their minds at that moment.
Student Arielle Brown walked up with her rainbow mohawk hat to share why being an ally was an important decision in her life. And though she began to cry, Brown said she wasn’t weak for others.
“I’m a strong tower for those people who need me to be,” Brown (junior-English) said. “Everyone who can hear my voice, and I know you can hear my voice, should be out and proud.”
It was Zach Davis’ first time at the NCOW Rally, and he said it was everything he expected it to be. He appreciated those who stood up and spoke, even though they had not prepared anything ahead of time.
“It was raw emotion and raw nerve,” Davis (freshman-women’s studies) said. “It was straight from the heart and I loved every second of it.”