UT Pride Center celebrates National Coming Out Day

The Pride Center hosted its annual National Coming Out Day at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and gathers the community to show what Pride means to them.

Graduate assistant Ciara Gazaway and Coordinator Bonnie Johnson at table set up for National Coming Out Day

On Oct. 11, the University of Tennessee Pride Center celebrated National Coming Out Day with an ice cream social held in the Strong Hall Atrium.

The community gathered together and enjoyed not only ice cream but conversation, flags and free swag.

Bonnie Johnson, the coordinator for the Pride Center, made sure that the event ran smoothly and stayed with tradition. 

“The Pride Center, and under its previous names, has been doing this on and off for about 10 years,” Johnson said. “The Pride Center is actually celebrating its 10 year anniversary this February, which will be really fun. We are hoping to do a big celebration and we are still in the stages of planning everything. For most of those years though, we have had this celebration, which makes it one of our bigger annual events.”

On this day for the LGBTQ+ community, people shared what ‘Pride’ means to them.

“I think what ‘Pride’ means to just me personally, means being with the community. You can be proud and you can be all the things on your own, but I think what really makes the LGBTQ+ community special is that we all come together,” Johnson said. “‘Pride’ means coming together in celebration of something that people tell you that you should be ashamed of, but you’re like ‘No this is an amazing and enriching part of who I am.'”

“Pride to me means being very honest with yourself and being able to express who you are in whatever situation that you are in,” senior Maya Bian said. “Maybe you aren’t out, but living in a way where you understand where you are in your context and living that to the fullest of your ability.”

On this pride-filled day for the LGBTQ+ community, the Pride Center brought the campus together to celebrate.

Edited by Grace Goodacre and Ainsley Kelso

Featured photo by Julia Nadeau