Our Center, a local nonprofit that provides resources to the LGBTQ community, hosted several events for LGBTQ History Month in October. The four events featured panels and discussions on topics ranging from the HIV and AIDS to National Coming Out Day.
Sherrie Scaffidi, an Our Center volunteer, explained that the events provide education on LGBTQ issues for people of all ages. Scaffidi believes this is vital due to the limited resources in Northern Nevada for LGBTQ youth in particular. “I appreciate the education for the LGBTQ community and their allies,” said Scaffidi, “It’s very important.”
The events discussed the topics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, National Coming Out Day, the history of LGBTQ politics in Nevada featuring representatives from the ACLU, and Trans History.
Scaffidi said that while every event attracted attendees, the panel on National Coming Out Day was the most popular. “Probably 25 to 30 people were at the National Coming Out Day panel,” said Scaffidi. The event featured a moderator and several panelists who answered questions and discussed their own coming out stories, according to Scaffidi.
Scaffidi said that the National Coming Out Day panel helps people to have a deeper understanding of the difficulties involved in coming out. “The coming out stories seem to impact so many people when they realize the difficulties that people go through when they’re coming out, and how strong you have to be to come out as LGBTQ,” said Scaffidi.
Scaffidi also explained the extreme psychological toll staying in the closet can have on some LGBTQ people. Scaffidi said, “A lot of people say, ‘Oh you guys are heroes,’ and ‘Oh you guys are really strong.’ What people don’t realize is at some point, if you’re in that community, you have to come out, or it can kill you.”
Scaffidi believes that increasing LGBTQ community education can create more allies, and a greater sense of safety for LGBTQ people to come out. “People would understand what it’s like and maybe give someone the power to come out,” said Scaffidi.
According to Scaffidi, Our Center hopes to host LGBTQ History Month events next year as well. Going forward, Our Center hopes to attract new volunteers and attendees. “We’re trying to get some new volunteers, get some new blood, some new thinking,” said Scaffidi, “Looking forward, we’re going to be way better than we are now.”