October 11, 2017 10:26 PM
In honor of National Coming Out Day, UMD held its annual luncheon to support and celebrate its LGBTQ students, faculty and staff.
For junior Reilly Manzer, UMD has proven to be a more accepting place than his small hometown.
"It was nice to be able to come here and have people that recognize that you exist as a person," Manzer said.
However, he thinks there is still progress to be made both inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community. His speech at the luncheon centered around racism in the queer community and Duluth in general.
"It shouldn't matter. Any of the intersecting identities that I have, I'm a person," Manzer said. "At the base, I am a person and I should be treated as such."
Dr. Jacob Wainman, the faculty speaker, recounted his days as an undergraduate at UMD.
"I had a really fortunate coming out experience because it happened here when I was surrounded by a group of friends who were really supportive," Wainman said.
Telling his family was the tough part.
"Where they were initially right after I told them versus where they are now is sort of an astronomical change," Wainman said. "Now my husband is part of the family, and he's just another one of the in-laws."
Wainman hopes the luncheon provides a safe space for others to see people who are out and proud. And he hopes it helps everyone see them as people and not just a concept.
"It really does take getting to know a person one-on-one, making it a real thing that you experience, not just something you hear about," Wainman said.
Those are steps. Manzer sees more work to do.
"The goal is to not be afraid. But we are not at a point in our society in which everybody can have no fear in coming out and being who they are," Manzer said. "Coming Out Day is kind of showing people that yeah, queer people exist. We're here. You don't know, it could be your neighbor."
Updated: October 11, 2017 10:26 PM
Created: October 11, 2017 06:07 PM
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