GSA’s Coming Out event: Unexpectedly successful

Justin Kim

12:25 p.m.:

A girl and a boy scurry across the academic court, towards a small congregation in the center. Firmly grasped in their hands, lifted slightly above the ground, is a door-frame, painted gray with flecks of rainbow colors scattered about. They gently set down the threshold, as a girl with green hair quickly delivers directions to different members of the group. Soon, the whole group is in motion, setting down posters, paint, whiteboards and markers next to the framework in a race against time.

12:37 p.m.:

The group stops buzzing. The set up is over, but they’ve missed the chance to attract students who have  left to go to the rally court for food and music. A rare moment of silence dominates the air. The students hang around awkwardly for a few minutes. The event seems to be stuck in limbo.

Suddenly, Spanish teacher Joyce Fortune and English teacher Kate Evard, appear. Evard is waving a rainbow flag as Fortune passes through the door. Eventually, others trickle in from various directions. Students and teachers both huddle around the whiteboards, scribbling pro-LGBTQ messages on as they make their way to the doorframe.

1:00 p.m.:

The small congregation is no more; in its place stands a cheering crowd of both students and teachers. Principal April Scott and Assistant Principal Mike White silently watch the growing flock from the back, a smile on each of their faces.

With messages like “LGBTQ Ally,” “I support you” or  even “sexually confused,” MVHS students and staff made their way through the threshold and into the welcoming fold of the Gay Straight Alliance, or GSA.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, GSA  held an event celebrating the 26th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which took place on Oct. 11. The GSA decided to hold the celebratory event on Friday so that students could express support for the LGBTQ community society.

In celebration of “coming out,” students and administrators walked through a door frame towards GSA members and other allies, who formed a “high five line” to greet the new supporters. Afterwards, these new initiates put their handprints onto a large poster set up beside the doorway and cheered others on as they passed through the door frame as well. The GSA welcomed both LGBTQ individuals and allies in the event.

The idea of walking through a door for a ‘Coming Out event’ has been used by other schools throughout the country, such as nearby Palo Alto High School. However, this was MVHS’s first time holding this type of event.

The event was proposed by science teacher Andrew Goldenkranz on Oct. 6. From there, the GSA put together posters and borrowed a doorframe from the Drama department.

Originally intended for the rally court, the event was later moved to the academic court in order to avoid overlapping with the Homecoming Talent Show. The event was first announced the day before it took place, which reduced student and faculty awareness. The door itself was not opened until ten minutes into lunch, due to delays in set-up.

Even club members were having doubts about the event’s success.

“I was really stoked. I wanted to participate the most I could … But I thought there were going to be no people,” freshman Kavin Sivakumar said. “[I thought] it was just members of the club going in and out.”

But there were people. Many more than anyone had expected. Despite time constraints, a last minute relocation, and a late start to the event, the GSA’s Coming Out Day Event was successful. Both students and administrators attended the event, with the crowd of over fifty cheering on fellow supporters during the middle of lunch.

Principal April Scott attributes the event’s success to the GSA club itself.

“Our GSA has been so open and so welcoming and so positive that it doesn’t really surprise me,” Scott said. “It was exactly what I expected.”

As for the future of the event, the club is already thinking about next year and beyond.

“It will definitely go on every year from now on,” GSA club co-president senior Sophia Alejandre said. “Next year, we will prepare for months before the actual event and hopefully have an even bigger turnout next year and have it in the rally court and have it be a whole school wide event.”

Until then, GSA will continue to help individuals come to terms with their sexual orientations and identities in other ways, through both events and simple advice. Hopefully, it will benefit MVHS, as a whole.

“The world works best when people are honest about who they are,” Goldenkranz said. “That makes them better students, better workers, better citizens, and I think we’re all better off for it.”