Coming Out Celebration: Taking Off the Mask
October 9, 2009
By Alexandra Villalba
Brooks Oliver, a ceramic arts senior, celebrated National Coming Out Day Masquerade Ball with his friends.
“I pretended that I was straight for 20 years and when I came out, it was like taking that mask off,” he said. “If you’re a member of the LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered] community typically you have worn a mask for a large portion of your life,” Oliver said.
National Coming Out Day is an event where LGBT people “come out” of the closet. The event is sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, which fights for gay rights.
The ball started at 9 p.m. and took place Oct. 8 in the Hughes-Trigg Varsity. It was filled with SMU students, staff and Dallas residents, the majority of which were wearing costumes. There were about 50 people in attendance who danced to the latest songs and mingled with each other as they celebrated the night’s festivities.
The Varsity was filled with balloons, streamers, strobe lights, and a disco ball. The Varisty resembled a 1970s disco-era club. Food, drinks and music were also provided for guests to enjoy.
The event was sponsored by Spectrum, SMU’s LGBT student organization. Oliver, co-president of Spectrum, said the event is a lot of fun and a way for students to meet each other.
“It’s a way to show our presence on the SMU campus,” Oliver said.
He said everyone is welcome to participate in Spectrum.
Karen Click, director of the Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, which is the umbrella organization for Spectrum, said National Coming Out Day is a way for people to go out and “celebrate a positive LGBT identity.”
Trey Trevino, SMU cinema television student, said this was the main reason he came to the event.
“I guess I am what you would call a heterosexual ally,” he said. “I know quite a few people here and they are really cool.”
Atiyah Edwards, SMU cinema television senior, went to the event to see her friends as well.
“I came to the see the festivities and for the food,” she said. “I have friends here and they are all dressed up. One of my good friends is dressed up as a bum.”
Click said people come to the event with masks on and by the end of the night they unmask themselves.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Lewis said closets can be a very dark and lonely place. She said the moment that you step out of the closet you are welcomed into the community.