The Sharwan Smith Student Center at Southern Utah University had a unique addition to its hallway on Friday—a closet covered in chalk messages supporting the LGBTQ community.
The closet was displayed in recognition of National Coming Out Day. It paid tribute to those who identify with the LGBTQ community but are still “closeted” or haven’t shared that about themselves for various reasons.
“We wanted to make sure that students here are aware that even if they’re closeted there’s not an issue in regards to their acceptance on campus,” said senior PAEC President Victor Carvajal-Lopez. “But we also do want to keep in mind that everyone has their own journey coming out. We want to let those who aren’t know that they’re loved regardless, and this school is a safe environment.”
Quotes and messages written in chalk adorned the closet, such as, “Be prideful in who you are” and, “you are fiercely loved.” Those passing by were able to add their own messages to the closet.
“Just reading these messages I could personally relate to because I was there,” shared senior Pride and Equality Club secretary Brittany Cordova. “When I first came out I was scared, and I wish I had and could read some of these messages then.”
National Coming Out Day is on Sunday, Oct. 11, but the event was held on Friday in order to spread awareness when people would actually be at the university.
PAEC had a table set up nearby with the chalk, as well as flags, pins and stickers to show support. The table had hand sanitizer that was applied before anyone used the chalk for people to safely participate while still abiding by sanitation recommendations.
“I think just having it there and having the positive messages on it is helping students, closeted or not,” said Cordova.
The mission of PAEC is to promote education and awareness about the LGBTQ community.
PAEC meetings happen every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Center For Diversity and Inclusion located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.
Visit the SUU clubs website or the PAEC Instagram for more information about the Pride and Equality Club.
Story By: Larissa Beatty