Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

With National Coming Out Day on the horizon in October, Gavilan College is set to host an event to celebrate the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

“I’m pleased to say that the majority of decision makers at our college understand and recognize the importance of raising the flag on National Coming Out Day,” said Nolan Golden, associated student body president. “We are thrilled they have agreed that the flag should be flown.”

On Oct. 9, Gavilan will raise the rainbow flag for the first time at its Gilroy campus. The focus of the event is to offer LGBTQ students the opportunity to meet with local resources in the region.

“Being the first openly gender-queer and gay student body president of Gavilan, I know first hand how difficult it is to come out,” Golden said. “Our student body is fully aware of the fact that LGBTQ youth are committing suicide at higher percentages than heterosexual youth, and when you compare the LGBTQ community to the transgender community, the numbers are significantly greater for transgender youth, especially transgender youth of color.”

While National Coming Out Day is celebrated around the country on Oct. 11, Golden said the Gavilan College event will happen two days prior in order to involve as many local LGBTQ organizations as possible.

Students will have access to resources ranging from local safe spaces, mental health and HIV/AIDS testing at the event.

According to Golden, the associated student body and Gavilan administrators have begun discussing the importance of designating safe spaces on each Gavilan campus that they hope to announce in the near future.

The Oct. 9 National Coming Out Day event at Gavilan is expected to start at 11 a.m. Golden and Gavilan President Kathleen Rose will speak around 1 p.m., with the flag-raising to follow shortly after.

“Gavilan has wonderful Principles of Community that we use as our guide on how to operate as an institution,” Golden said. “Our most important states that ‘We embrace and celebrate diversity in all its forms.’ And that is truly what this event is about. To show not just the students at Gavilan that we offer safe refuge and encourage the expression of oneself, but to show the communities we serve that our institution is truly a place where students have support and access to important resources that will help them thrive in life; it’s to say, ‘We see you, we hear you, and we are here to help.’”