Skidmore celebrates National Coming Out Day
October 11 marks the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, promoting a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. Skidmore’s commitment to inclusivity is reflected throughout the College.
Skidmore’s Office of Student Diversity Programs (OSDP) provides support, advocacy, and resources for students of various sexual orientation and gender identities. Resources include an Ally Toolkit, links to local and national LGBTQ resources, and tips on what it means to come out.
OSDP works with student groups such as the Pride Alliance to educate the wider community and to create a more welcoming campus. Every year, the Pride Alliance invites students to share their coming out stories in reconginition of National Coming Out Day. In 2011, with the help of the Pride Alliance, Skidmore designated gender-neutral bathrooms in each academic building on campus. Students can also choose to live on gender-neutral floors in the residence halls.
Clare Kenny '15, co-founder of the Show Your Sport campaign
On the playing field, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee partners with the Skidmore Athletic Department for Show Your Sport, an awareness campaign begun by two volleyball players from the Class of 2015, Clare Kenny and Aria Goodman. Motivated by her own coming-out story, Kenny launched the campaign to advocate for supporting LGBTQ college athletes.
“For almost half of my college career I was a closeted gay athlete,” Kenny wrote in a letter to Skidmore athletes. “I owe so much of my comfort to the teammates and fellow athletes who came out as openly supportive of LGBTQ issues. My senior season proved to be my happiest, as I experienced what it felt like to be truly accepted and understood by my teammates.”
The campaign also brought prominent speakers such as ESPN panelist and columnist Kate Fagan to campus, and more than 130 student-athletes from 16 varsity teams have come out in support of the LGBTQ athletic community.
For faculty member Cecilia Aldarondo, LGBTQ issues are both personal and professional. She’s spent the last few years working on a documentary film, Memories of a Penitent Heart. The film takes viewers back in time to explore her family’s secret history: a gay, Catholic, Latino uncle who died during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
The film was accepted at the TriBeCa Film Festival in April. Skidmore’s MDOCS (John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative) program invited students on a trip to the renowned New York City festival to watch a screening. “Cecilia’s family story is moving and emotional, and she is definitely a great and unique documentarian,” says Renato Dornelas ‘17, who attended. Aldarondo is teaching a course this semester on HIV/AIDS in film and video.
As an Orlando, Fla., native, Aldarondo was shocked by the assault on Pulse nightclub earlier this year. She penned an op-ed in The Daily Beast about the role of gay clubs and how they provide sanctuary for LGBTQ individuals. The Skidmore campus lowered flags and invited the community to a memorial in honor of the lives lost in the nightclub shooting.
Professor Yelena Biberman-Ockali and Gage Willand ’16 researched the Pulse nightclub shooting, looking for links between radicalization and violence. The bottom line: “We may not be able to prevent radicals from causing massive casualties, but we can control whether their attacks achieve their desired goals.”
An a new initiative this year, the Office of Alumni Relations has formed a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. Members will help shape Skidmore’s alumni volunteer structure, strategic initiatives, and communications to both alumni of color and LGBTQ alumni.
The steering committee will focus initially on identifying alumni who would like to be part of this effort, deciding on language and terminology and generating ideas for programming, communications, and engagement opportunities that strengthen ties among diverse alumni, current undergraduates, and Skidmore. The group has already affirmed the need for an Alumni Pride Network.
“Diversity and inclusion are facets of Skidmore’s institutional strength that allow us to better connect, create, and collaborate as a community,” says Wendy L. Wilson ‘96, chair of diversity on the alumni board.
Today, the Alumni Relations Office marked National Coming Out Day on its Facebook page, posting, “Skidmore is proud to be ‘out’ as an LGTBQ-inclusive institution.”