In more recent times, laws and stereotypes have seemed to slowly progress and change for the LGBTQ+ community. Although progress has been made, there is still a while to go for the queer community; More importantly, the African American queer community. The month of February is Black History Month, and the University has been dedicating a series of events for the black students, as well as others who want to know more about the culture. One of the events was called the “Coming out Series: The Black African American Community.” The event took place Wednesday, Feb. 10, via Zoom due to Covid complications.

The event mainly discussed “coming out the closet” in the black/African American community, considering that their situations/standards are incoherently different from other ethnicities and cultures. This event was led by the African American Cultural Center and was facilitated by John Smith. The event was based around Smith sharing his coming out story, as well as hearing the other students share their experience.

Smith said his journey hadn’t been easy considering only a handful of people truly know his sexual orientation. He said he wanted to tell the rest of his family but got advice from his mom and aunt that it’s no one’s business what his preference is. He even stated that he has family members who still uses slurs like “fag” and “dike” and how he corrects them because saying those words is not okay.

Smith said he loved the support he received from his co-workers, as well as the other two students at the event. He said he wanted to just share a safe space with other students of color to know that they are not alone on this journey. Within the black community, our coming out stories are not always handled in the best manner; sometimes our families will disown us because of who we love. Black are definitely higher on the spectrum of receiving backlash for their sexual orientation, and having Smith lead this presentation was great for representation.

The event concluded with a two-hour discussion and gave a better insight on students’ perspectives of “Coming Out” in the black community. For more information on the series, contact the African American Cultural Center.