OUTSA hosts Coming Out Day At Central campus

John Cañamar

From left to right Rachel Alaniz, Juanita Valdes and Aurora Harris volunteers for LHI at the Coming Out Day hosted by OUTSA. Photo by John Cañamar

From left to right Rachel Alaniz, Juanita Valdes and Aurora Harris volunteers for LHI at the Coming Out Day hosted by OUTSA.
Photo by John Cañamar

Coming Out Day was observed by the Out Student and Allies (OUTSA) at Houston Community College Central Campus Learning Hub on Tuesday Oct. 13.

OUTSA is a gender and sexuality alliance support organization at HCC which hosts meetings and events to help the LGBT community.

Coming Out Day is a day when members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community help other individuals in the process of “going public” with their sexuality.

OUTSA President Kelly Meine called on several outside organizations to help HCC students understand and deal with the multitude of feelings experienced while they are planning to tell their family and others about their sexual orientation.

The Montrose Center, Lesbian Health Initiative of Houston and Solidarity Houston are all groups that came out for the event.

“The Montrose Center is a safe environment where the LGBT community can go for counseling, addiction treatment and family therapy,” said Sarah Douin. A mission of the Montrose Center is to empower LGBT individuals and their families to enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives.

The Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI) of Houston was also at the event. LHI is an organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to healthcare and inspiring health and wellness for LGBT women and transgender men. LHI provides mammograms, pap smears, blood tests and many other health exams to members of the community that may not have any or enough health insurance.

“Self-care and self-esteem is one of the best parts that LHI offers,” said Juanita Valdes, a LHI volunteer. “They also provide health care so that I know that myself and partner will be around. Education is another aspect of what LHI does for us.”

Senior Outreach Navigation Specialist Aurora Harris was very pleased with the invitation from Meine and the OUTSA organization. Harris said that more events like these are needed for the LGBT community to learn about available resources.

Koomah, a representative for the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said he did not like Coming Out Day when he came out. At that time, he felt all LGBT people expected harsh treatment — or worse — by their respective communities when they decided to come out.

As time moved on, the need for events like Coming Out Day helped ease those initial fears.

“With maturity and age comes wisdom and the understanding that all of us have different situations from where we are coming out,” Koomah said. “Some of us may be dependent on our parents and afraid that they would be put out on the street. Or worse, get beaten and ridiculed.”

OUTSA hosts meetings twice a month and special events periodically at the central campus. To learn more about OUTSA and to see their upcoming events, visit their website.