Florida International University’s LGBT community celebrated National Coming Out Day with students and faculty members sharing personal memories and experiences of revealing their sexual orientation.
The university’s LGBTQA Initiatives Multicultural Program set up a stage at Panther Square on Biscayne Bay Campus for anyone to tell their personal story.
Jaylon Hadley, president of the campus’ Gay-Straight Alliance, was one of the first students to take the mike. He spoke of attending a group called Youth Pride, where other youth discussed LGBT topics.
“That was where I was starting to find myself,” said Hadley, 23. “I started to realize that it was OK to be me. The hardest part for me was to come out to myself and accept myself for who I am, and once I did that, I started coming out to my family.”
Next up was Marissa Pardo, 19, FIU’s Stonewall club president. “It has been a really hard journey, I had people in my family that have disowned me and I had people in my family that are supportive and said to do anything that I wanted,” Pardo said.
Groups including SAVE, Latinos Salud and the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors provided information to Coming Out Day students.
“Coming out is a process, the work with the [LGBTQA] community is a process and that’s why I love working for the Pride Center because I am encouraged and supported and I learn every day,” said Roya Amirniroumand, who coordinates the Women with Pride group at the Pride Center.
Amirniroumand encouraged all who are still trying to find themselves to connect with their community.
“No matter what sexuality you are, the older you get the more you meet people and diverse yourself within your own community, it really does get better,” Pardo said. “There are millions of people that want to part of your life.”