October 11, 2002

Events Observe Coming Out Day

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During the course of this past week, Cornell’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Resource Center (LGBTRC) sponsored various events from social gatherings to thought-provoking lectures to celebrate National Coming Out Day, observed today.

To publicize the significance of the day, the LGBTRC has taken out an advertisement in today’s issue of the Sun, featuring almost 500 names of “out and proud” Cornell community members and heterosexual allies.

“I rounded up support from my fellow SA representatives and got lots of names as straight allies for the ad,” said Erica Kagan ’05, LGBTQ Liaison to the SA.

Various other members of the Cornell community listed themselves in the ad.

“I’m fairly comfortable with who I am and what people think of me doesn’t matter too much,” Kevin Nagel ’06 said.

David Chipurnoi ’00, grad, organizer of “Out in the World,” a group for LGBT graduate students, was also part of the ad. A Long Island native, Chipurnoi also attended Cornell for his undergraduate degree.

“My expectation for this week is to raise awareness. A lot of people experience freedom and independence for the first time. Still, it’s kind of hard to be open when 30 or 40 people from your high school are here,” said Chipurnoi, who was not open about his sexuality during his undergraduate years at Cornell.

“I think now that I was kind of foolish, whether or not I was in a fraternity. I could have kept my friends, regardless of being [openly] gay,” Chipurnoi added.

Others included their name to call attention to the community at large.

“I feel that it is only right that I put myself out in the newspaper just for the sake of the whole community,” Greg Hom ’06 said.

David Sue grad has similar intentions.

“I feel that by participating and putting on my name, and getting my straight ally friends on there, I’m helping to show that the community exists,” he said.

Sue felt that it was important to distinctly celebrate the event as he said he believes time constraints prevent most Cornell students from actively addressing this issue.

“It’s hard to motivate Cornell students to do anything outside the Cornell curriculum,” Sue added.

However, this week’s planned activities have managed to attract a wide audience.

On Tuesday night, Robert Purcell Community Center hosted “Coming Out Rocks,” a 3 hour program sponsored by the LGBTRC, Community Development and various residence halls. The evening included a free dinner with faculty, a discussion panel, and a music listening party.

“Because it was on North campus, we saw lots of LGBT first years participate in the event,” said Gwendolyn Dean, coordinator of the LGBTRC.

Andrea Hektor ’06, a participant in Tuesday’s program, expressed her pleasure in the program, especially for its ability to attract members of the greater community.

“It was interesting. People would just see all these people and hear this music and come in, and it was obvious that they had no idea what was going on until we told them,” she said.

Adding a serious tone to Tuesday’s party atmosphere, Cornell’s LGBTRC joined forces with members of the Ithaca College community yesterday afternoon in a rally and kiss-in on the Ithaca College quadrangle.

The week culminated with a lecture in Rockefeller Hall last night discussing the morality of homosexuality. The event featured Dr. John Corvino, professor of philosophy at Wayne State University who took a four point approach to address the issue of homosexuality, including an exploration of the Bible and discussion of alleged human nature and common misconceptions about homosexuality. Corvino, a native of Queens, NY, has been giving this sort of lecture for 10 years.

His talk yesterday began with various thought experiments to highlight the common societal view of homosexuality. In particular, he highlighted the distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity and then contrasted these concepts with that of heterosexual behaviors.

“The bedroom is not the only room in the homosexual person’s house. We see a dichotomy of terms appearing in heterosexuality versus homosexuality. Relationships versus sex. One is a life, the other is a lifestyle. One has a moral vision, the other has an agenda. These are essentially different words that refer to the same thing,” Corvino said.

When discussing the Bible’s ban on homosexuality, he cited other everyday activities forbidden by the Leviticus, a chapter of the Bible.

“‘One should not touch the skin of a pig,’ but what about football?” he said.

Corvino also noted that family values, such as generosity, commitment, and compassion, were also present in homosexual relationships. He eventually concluded that most of society’s aversion to homosexuality was based on misconception and unfamiliarity. Sharing anecdotes from his own life, Corvino emphasized the importance of bringing awareness about LGBT issues to a wide audience, and the need for National Coming Out Day for youth.

“Nobody’s ever sat in their dorm room crying because they found out they were straight. The amount of emotional energy that goes into a culture of shame is quite high. That’s why National Coming Out Day is important,” Corvino said.

In reacting to the events and participation in the week thus far, Gwendolyn Dean said she was ecstatic.

“We’re very happy that lots of people showed up to the events, and hope to take it to a larger level next year,” she said.

National Coming Out Day week continues today with another talk by John Corvino from 2-3:30 PM in the Founders Room of Anabel Taylor Hall, delving into the moral issues surrounding naughty fantasies.

Archived article by Krishna Raghavan