'Canes show their pride

Photo: Genesis Cosme/University of Miami

By Genesis Cosme

Photo: Genesis Cosme/University of Miami

'Canes show their pride

By Genesis Cosme
The LGBTQ Student Center and SpectrUM invite the UM community to show their true colors during LGBT History Month, celebrated throughout the month of October.

More than three decades ago, the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights made a historical change. The scope and success of the rally marked October 11 as the official National Coming Out Day and the full month of October as LGBT History Month. 

Across the country and on our campus, Coming Out Week and LGBT History Month is celebrated by students, faculty, and staff who provide recognition, offer support, and raise awareness for LGBTQ+ students and issues.

“To me, the act of coming out is symbolic,” says Emma Lam, a senior and treasurer of SpectrUM, the University’s largest undergraduate LGBTQ+ student organization. “There’s power in coming out and taking up space. It fosters more understanding, inclusivity, and self-empowerment, but also lets people who aren’t out yet find someone to reach out to.”

LGBT History Month was founded in 1994 by a Missouri high school history teacher, Rodney Wilson, who wanted to connect with and instill pride in the community. With help from friends, supporters, and what’s now known as GLSEN, the first LGBT History Month Coordinating Committee mailed out packets of material with history curriculum suggestions for secondary schools, colleges, and universities. At the University of Miami, the LGBTQ Student Center works to educate the community in honor of the month by highlighting historical LGBTQ+ activists and other facts about LGBTQ+ history in its office.

“The LGBTQ Student Center serves as a resource for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as for allies and those who may be questioning their identity,” said Vanessa Kania, the center's assistant director. “We exist to fill the gaps left by a society that paints gender and sexuality as a binary by providing education and services to all.”

This year’s Coming Out Week, which took place the week of October 7, featured events such as an ally discussion series, trivia at the Rathskeller, a pride photoshoot, candlelight vigil, and day of service. Headlining the week was the October 11 Miami Hurricanes football game against the University of Virginia, which coincided with National Coming Out Day. Students were invited to visit the pride-themed Student Fan Zone at the northwest corner of Hard Rock Stadium.

The LGBTQ Student Center’s mission to foster inclusion and support for the University’s LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff goes beyond Coming Out Week and LGBT History Month. It offers a variety of opportunities for empowerment, visibility, and intergroup engagement like IBIS Ally Training and the Lavender Celebration

The second installment of IBIS Intersections is on October 22 at 6 p.m., which features a panel of LGBTQ+ women in business to speak about their experiences. The panel is hosted in partnership with the Women In Business Club in the Miami Herbert Business School Executive Education Dining Room.

“It is important for us to create spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to foster an inclusive atmosphere and further increase representation on our campus,” Kania adds. “If you’re looking for advice or to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community in support of a friend or family member who has recently come out, consider stopping by the center or attending one of our events. Our role is to serve as a support system and advocate to meet the needs of our LGBTQ+ students, whether through scholarships, gender-inclusive restrooms, programming and everything in between.”

Editorial note: Mentions of LGBT History Month and the LGBTQ Student Center are in reference to the formal names for both titles.