The Gay-Straight Alliance club event “OUT!” teaches students how to be a good ally at a tough time.
By Leilani Peltz, News Editor
Diana Ross belted out, “I’m coming out. I want the world to know, got to let it show” over speakers as people arrived Oct. 28 for the Gay-Straight Alliance club’s “OUT!” panel and interactive workshop.
The audience of nearly 50 people listened as the four panelists introduced themselves by sharing their coming-out stories.
Alfreda Lanoix is an openly lesbian woman and the mother of the advisor for the GSA club, Tiffany Lanoix.
“I came out in the middle of my marriage,” Lanoix said. “I had two kids and two dogs, a little house up on the top of the hill—so from outer appearances, it looked like a normal situation.”
Lanoix delayed coming out for the sake of her children, but when she became suicidal, she realized it was in their best interest to have a gay mother than a dead one.
For GSA President Cristian Reynaga, his coming-out process continues to be a struggle. Reynaga, a Latino man, talked about how his sister who raised him reacted.
“[My sister] shunned me,” Reynaga said. “She didn’t want me to be around her or my nieces and nephews.”
Chris Villalobos knew at a young age that he was gay but did not come out until his senior year of high school.
“‘Mom, Dad, Grandma, I experimented with a boy,’” Villalobos remembers telling his family. “They asked, ‘Well, did you like it? Are you happy?’ And that’s when I realized I was part of the most loving, accepting family.”
One of the male panelists, Jaye Johnson, is a consultant and personal evolution coach. He had two coming out stories.
“The first time I came out, I came out as a lesbian. So, if you didn’t guess it already, I’m a transgender male.”
The second time, he came out as transgender while married to a woman.
“When I decided to come out to my wife and say ‘I’m transgender,’ that was probably the scariest time,” Johnson said. “She could have said no, but I couldn’t live another day inauthentically, whether she would stay or not. We’ve been married almost 10 years now.”
Panelists answered moderator and audience questions about the age they came out, to whom they first came out, their biggest fear and whether they would choose to be gay, lesbian, transgender or straight if given the choice. The last question split the panel, with half the members saying they would chose to be straight.
“It was eye-opening,” psychology major Daniel Alvarez said. “It spreads the word and shows people they aren’t alone, and it helps the gay community to become more active.”