Coming Out! The Power of Storytelling, The Impact it Can Have

“What is shared here stays here, and what’s learned here leaves here.” -Dan Balski, Director of Student Life

October+12%2C+2020%2C+ACC+welcomes+all+students+to+National+Coming+Out+Day+Storytelling

October 12, 2020, ACC welcomes all students to National Coming Out Day Storytelling

Donna DeBacco, Reporter

“Coming out” is a personal and unique experience for every person who does so. It takes courage and commitment to boldly embrace and share your sexual orientation and or gender identity.

Historically our nation has shown bias against the LGBTQ community; many have been persecuted, discriminated against, and have not received equal justice under the law. Look back in history to be reminded of the “milestones” and atrocities the community has suffered.

Imagine then the strength it takes to lay bare your identity and be fully transparent about the most sensitive aspects of your life.

For some people, “coming out” means risking relationships with family and friends, not knowing how they will react, and wondering if they will be accepted or rejected; it can be painful and frightening. For others, it is a relief to share how they identify, how they feel, and express one part of who they are that makes them whole.

On Monday, Oct 12, at 4 p.m., Director of Student Life, Dan Balski, M.S., hosted a Zoom gathering in honor of National Coming Out Day. The community gatherings; goal was to offer a protected environment for students of the LGBTQ community and allies to share their personal experiences. Balaski welcomed the group and assured all participants in the conversation, “what is shared here stays here, and what’s learned here leaves here.”

Once Dan Balaski set the ground rules, he invited participants to begin sharing their stories. What immediately followed was a long period of silence. To break the silence, Balski said, one of his “guiding pillars” is “power is in a shared experience.” And then, one brave student offered her story. That story set the pace for what became a compelling hour as students began contributing to the dialog. Several students shared some of their most private, personal moments of discovery and coming out. The stories were deep, authentic and unforgettable.

Students asked a few questions during the meeting; Balaski responded thoughtfully to each while clarifying that he is not a therapist. He shared a quote that holds significant meaning in his life, “it is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you are not.” As the meeting drew to an end, Balaski thanked all for attending and reminded the group, “you are the author of your story.” Words we should all take to heart.