Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and questioning individuals make up 10 to 12 percent of the population of the U.S., which means that approximately 900 undergraduates at Boston College could be GLBTQ. Some people, however, have yet to be open about their sexuality. National Coming Out Week (NCOW) gives members of the BC community an opportunity to express their sexuality and to interact with peers and supporters.
Alex Taratuta chair of the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC) and A&S ’14, believes there are many more students poised to open up about their sexuality. “The number of students currently in the GLBTQ community on campus is just the tip of the iceberg,” Taratuta said.
The GLC provides GLBTQ students with a peer group and environment in which to express issues related to sexual orientation. The GLC organizes several events throughout the year, including presentations by speakers, support initiatives, and NCOW.
This week is aimed at supporting students learning to express themselves to the world, but Taratuta noted that many students are not ready until later in their college career. Studying abroad junior year can have a significant impact on a student’s confidence and comfort with their sexuality.
“They use that time to find themselves and then when they come back from studying abroad students realize that a lot of people have accepted their sexuality,” Taratuta said.
NCOW, which began in 2006, takes place during the first week of October and typically consists of the same events every year including: a kick-off barbecue, gayme night, Opening Boston’s Closet, Guess Who’s Gay, F to eMbody, and a closing ceremony. All of these events are important, but the barbecue is the most popular among the students.
Taratuta recognizes people who regularly participate in the events and tries to make it a point to know them and learn their names. Typically, around 1,000 students attend the events during NCOW, but the GLC hopes to attract 1,200 people this year.
With six events in five days, it can be hectic for the members of GLC and the GLBTQ community at BC. Taratuta proposed an idea that he predicts will attract more students in the future. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to look into doing a full month of events,” Taratuta said.
There are over 40 people in GLC this year, which is a dramatic increase from previous years.
“When I started [with GLC] my freshman year there were probably 12,” Taratuta said. He attributes the sudden increase in participation to the group’s increased visibility.
“Because we’re more visible we have had more success in our events,” Taratuta said.
Taratuta’s own experience with the group can be traced to his freshman year, when he attended a Spectrum retreat and met GLC leaders. After the retreat, he attended several meetings and officially joined GLC at the end of his freshman year.
Preparations for NCOW are extensive, and include designing and ordering shirts and stickers and planning meals for the events.
“We start planning NCOW at the beginning of summer,” Taratuta said.
Participation in the events is open to everyone, Taratuta said, and there are many students in GLC who do not identify themselves as GLBTQ.
“They are just there for their friends, or for family members, just because it’s something that they are interested in,” Taratuta said.
The two remaining events this week, F to eMbody and the closing ceremony, will take place on Oct. 10, from 3:30-5 p.m. in McGuinn 334 and on Oct. 11, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room, respectively.