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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Open mic night held for National Coming Out Day

GVL/ Sydney Lim

Grand Valley State University’s Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center hosted an open mic night on Oct. 9 in honor of National Coming Out Day. Those who attended celebrated the day through spoken word poetry, singing and performing stand-up comedy.   

“Queer the Air: An Open Mic and Spoken Word Night” invited students to observe the 35th anniversary of National Coming Out Day and pay respects to those who have passed from HIV/AIDS. 

D.L. McKinney, Director of the LGBT Resource Center, said “Queer the Air” is a tradition at the center. Although the event may not always take place exactly on Oct. 11– National Coming Out Day, McKinney said it’s still integral to have the event yearly.

“It’s super important for us (the LGBT Resource Center) to be the hub that creates a safe and accepting space,” McKinney said. “If we don’t do it, who else is going to?” 

Austin Kienutske, President of In the Margins, a creative writing club that meets in the LGBT Resource Center, had a similar attitude about the event. 

“Events like this (“Queer the Air”) are awesome because of the community,” Kienutske said. “There’s only so much advocacy that a single person can do.”

Like many others at the event, Kienutske stood behind the microphone and shared some of his own handwritten poetry. Kienutske said his poem was just a simple collection of everyday thoughts that ran through his head during classes. 

Others, however, shared poetry and spoken words detailing personal life experiences and struggles with identity. 

Kienutske said there are many who struggle with the process of coming out and feeling validated. He encourages those to utilize the resources available at GVSU and to take their time in their journey of self-discovery. 

McKinney said the LGBT Resource Center and Social Justice Centers lay a good foundation for LGBTQ acceptance on campus. However, McKinney said there are always more things people can do to be allies. 

“There are thousands of individuals that walk this campus with different backgrounds,” McKinney said. “Being an affirming and safe person starts with the expectation or standard that you will say something if you see something.”

In addition, the resource center has more events planned throughout the year for LGBTQ students and allies. 

Students can register to submit their art to the Queer Art Showcase on Nov. 8 at the resource center. The showcase will include a variety of GVSU students’ work, including short films, paintings and digital art.

Students can also participate in Open Door Discussions (ODDs) at the resource center throughout the semester. These discussions allow students, faculty and staff to converse about topics relating to the LGBTQ community. 

On Nov. 18, the resource center is also hosting a free clothing pop-up and workshop event, “Wear the Rainbow,” in the Loosemore Auditorium on the GVSU Pew Campus. The event’s poster promises, “access for everyone to explore gender expression across the spectrum in a safe and celebratory environment.” 

The center encourages interested students to volunteer for the event and donate gently used clothing and accessories until the Nov. 10 acceptance deadline.

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About the Contributor
Dylan Hoffius
Dylan Hoffius, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Dylan Hoffius is the Lanthorn's Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Winter 2024 semester. He previously worked as an Arts & Entertainment staff writer during the Fall 2023 semester. Dylan is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in journalism, broadcast, and digital media, with aspirations to critique film and write for a sports and pop-culture outlet after graduation. He loves to watch movies at the theater, play disc golf and cheer for Michigan-based sports teams, specifically the Lions and Pistons. Follow his Letterboxd account for unbiased movie reviews and rankings. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Journalism, Broadcast, and Digital Media