Cal U students organize “Out and Proud” social media campaign for National Coming Out Day, 2021



Cal U Rainbow Alliance officers posted images on the club’s Instagram site “showing their pride and support during Coming Out Week,” Oct. 12, 2021

Alexus Krause, Contributor

Among the constant flood of Instagram posts, this week Cal U students were able to find some of their fellow peers holding up “Out and Proud” signs. These posts were accompanied by rainbow-adorned images of Cal U’s Out and Proud campaign flyers, advertising the event.

October 11 was Coming Out day, an important day in the lives of many LGBTQ+ community members.

Cal U organizations came together to organize a social media campaign, where Proud LGTBQ+ members could advertise their pride in coming out as their respective sexualities and genders.

Rosa Ellenberger, a graduate assistant of education and outreach in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office, was excited to see the campaign come to fruition.

“It started in 2014 and initially it was just a way for people to have visibility and feel like an advocate for people that are in the community,” Ellenberger says.

Allies of the community are also encouraged to share their support, as Ellenberger believes the community is still very marginalized and can benefit from visible allies’ support.

Noah Kendall, the parliamentarian of Cal U’s Rainbow Alliance, a group meant to support LGBTQ+ individuals, agrees that allyship is necessary. However, they want allies to understand how to go about it in a positive way.

“Allies don’t have to ‘come out’ as allies, but you can just say you’re supporting the movement. Be someone who shows outward support and says ‘I’m here and I support you,’” Kendall says.

Even with allies and LGBTQ+ members posting their pride and support, the #CaluOutandProud tag has a small number of submissions. Kendall and Ellenberger have various reasons as to why.

“We’re getting a good bit,” Kendall says. “You always expect to get a lot of engagement but having impact in general is what makes this important.”

Ellenberger is still excited for the campaign but understands that amount of engagement is low.

“It doesn’t seem like much yet. In the past we had posters and fliers, but after Covid we moved to social media, which is more accessible to students. Private accounts also may not show up under the tag, so that’s a possibility as to why some don’t show up,” she says.

Regardless of engagement, both agree that campaigns like these are crucial to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. People are gaining more visibility with social media platforms with large audiences such as Instagram and TikTok, and the campaign looks to contribute to this.

“In terms of Cal U, I haven’t seen a huge change, the community has always been pretty open-minded. I have been noticing more of an effort. As far as society goes, there is a small shift in acceptance. It feels smaller than it is, but compared to 25 years ago, it’s a change.” Ellenberger says.

Freshman Ian Smyth supports the campaign, saying that it is a positive impact on the community.

“I think that the strides society has made to be more accepting of LGBTQ+ people is overall positive. However, there is always room to improve.”