Often times, coming out of the closet can take a lot of courage. To celebrate the challenges and courage of coming out, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is held annually  Oct. 11.

Founded in 1988, NCOD empowers those who identify as a member of the LGBT+ community to speak up and confront homophobia.

Part of facing homophobia here at Ohio Northern is Open Doors, an organization founded in the mid-1990s that has provided a safe place and has given a voice to the LGBT+ community at ONU. 

Dr. Bryan Lutz is one of the co-advisors alongside Justin Courtney, Director of Residence Life.

ONU’s Spirit Rock decorated for National Coming Out Day (Northern Review photo / Alex Dyke)

“National Coming Out Day dares us to live our most authentic selves and to share the entirety of ourselves without shame. When we come out, it means we feel safe enough to declare who we are loud and proud while knowing also that coming out is made necessary by all the social forces that tell us we’re odd, or we don’t matter, or we don’t exist,” said Dr. Lutz.

Open Doors set up a mobile door and door frame outside of McIntosh student center as a metaphor for coming out of the closet. 

“It’s a celebration of me being able to be myself to the people I care about. I think it’s important that you can share yourself with other people and be accepted for that. It’s very nice to have that accepting environment around you,” Savian Merkel, a member of Open Doors, said.

Dr. Lutz hopes that one day people will no longer need to come out of the closet, “I hope coming out won’t be necessary one day—when we can all just introduce ourselves and our partners without invasive interrogations about genitalia. I suppose until then, we ritualize Coming Out Day as an invitation to all to be their honest self.”

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