In celebration of National Coming Out Week, members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance stood in the free speech zone on campus and asked students passing by to guess their sexual orientation and their gender identity.
“The point of this is to show that you can’t always know just based off of someone’s appearance,” said April Anderson, graduate student in education and member of LGBTAA.
Anderson said she thought National Coming Out Week was important for people to recognize that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are just like everyone else.
“Love is love, and gender plays little part in love,” Anderson said.
Hiding oneself can cause stress and sometimes physical and mental health issues. No one deserves to feel afraid of being themselves, Anderson said.
“Closets are for storage; people are not storage,” Anderson said.
Coming out has been a lifelong process for Anderson. She did not come out in high school because she felt uncomfortable and unsafe revealing her true sexual identity.
“I hid myself for many years after that,” Anderson said.
Anderson said her mother thought Anderson's sexuality was just a phase. Through time, Anderson's mother became supportive and accepting of Anderson and her sexuality.
As pansexual, Anderson identifies herself as someone who is attracted to both men and women as well as transgender folks.
“I also identify as 'gender queer,'" Anderson said. "To me, that means that I know that I have male as well as female traits."
It wasn't until she came to Iowa State that Anderson felt comfortable being herself. Through being a vocalist for LGBT issues and liberation, Anderson has found a group of people who are willing to accept her.
“You are not alone. There is support here and ‘out there’ for you," Anderson said. "You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.”
National Coming Out Day was an opportunity for people to come out about their sexual identity. Coming out is really hard for a lot of people, said Buffy Jamison, senior in world languages and cultures and president of LGBTAA.
“When you just be yourself and be who you are, you feel complete,” Jamison said.
Jamison said she kept making excuses for herself, such as, "I like guys. So, I must be straight," and "All girls think other girls are attractive. I must just want to be like her."
“I battled with it for years," Jamison said. "I first realized it in sixth grade, and it took me until the end of high school to identify myself as bisexual."
Upon arriving at Iowa State, Jamison said she wanted to seek out an alliance. Although she was scared to go at first, Jamison said she was hooked on the organization once she did attend an alliance meeting.
A large struggle Jamison faced was how to come out to her father. Jamison decided that she would seek out guidance at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services. After talking to one of the coordinators in the office, Jamison decided it was time to tell her father.
“He is a pastor, and when I was young, I could remember him saying ‘God didn’t make an Adam and Steve, he made an Adam and Eve,'” Jamison said.
When Jamison came out to her father, she said it went much better that expected. Jamison said her father has changed his attitude over the years toward members of the LGBT community and encourages others to do the same.
“When you’re hating one aspect of yourself, you can easily hate the rest of it,” Jamison said.
Jamison advises anyone who feels similarly to how she felt in regards to her sexuality prior to coming out or needs help with coming out to talk to someone that they trust.
LGBTAA meetings are open to the public, and the coordinators at the LGBTSS office and the counseling center willing to visit with students who may have any questions or concerns about their own sexuality.
"Everything said at any of these places remains completely confidential," said Jamison. "Nobody needs to feel fearful of being outed here."