San Diego Continuing Education celebrates National Coming Out Day

National+Coming+Out+Day+is+an+annual+LGBTQ%2B+awareness+day+to+support+those+in+the+LGBTQ%2B+community+to+%22come+out+of+the+closet%22.

Wally Skalij/ Los Angeles Times/ TNS

National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day to support those in the LGBTQ+ community to “come out of the closet”.

Angela Galan Martinez, Staff Writer

San Diego Continuing Education celebrated National Coming Out Day by hosting a panel with several special guest speakers on Oct. 15 to share their personal stories of coming out and being part of the LGBTQ+ community. The panel was hosted by SDCE President Dr. Carlos Osvaldo Cortez, who identifies as

non-binary. San Diego Continuing Education prides themselves on having one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. The panelist shared their struggles with self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. Cortez explained, “We decide when we come out, where we come out, how we come out, who we come out to, and that deserves to be respected.”

The panel consisted not only of special guests, but important information and resources for LGBTQ+ students and allies. Chief Public Affairs & Civic Engagement Officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center, Rebekah J. Hook-Held, explained how the LGBTQ+ Community Center is open to all those in need of help for free. Their housing and emergency centers are open as well as their food banks. Everyone is welcome to their health services and programs such as HIV services, youth services, senior services, and many more. Virtual discussion and support groups are also available to all in need. More information can be found on The San Diego LGBT Community Center website.

The San Diego Pride Executive Director, Fernando Z. Lopez Jr. also provided some insight on how San Diego Pride has become one of the biggest LGBTQ+ programs in the country. With its many helpful programs, events, and involvement with the community, it has become a well-known program in the LGBTQ+ community. They, however, are most known for the exhilarating San Diego Pride parade and festival. “It’s our mission to be able to help anyone be a part of the LGBT community and make them feel like they are not being anyone but themselves,” said Lopez.

The panel ended with drag queen icon,  Tammie Brown. Brown is well known for being on the first season of, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and earning eighth place. Since then, he has appeared in many reality television shows and movies, as well as recorded three self-released studio albums. At a young age, Brown knew who he was and started dressing in drag during his highschool days in theater productions. He ended up playing Cinderella’s Stepmother in a production of Into The Woods and Cha Cha in a production of Grease. He was a lively character and explained how he was so glad to be a part of the panel and shared his story about figuring out who he was at a young age. On that note, the panel ended with a message from everyone exposing their gratitude to share their stories and to celebrate National Coming Out Day.