Many myths, stereotypes or misconceptions are still present when it comes to learning about the LGBTQ+ community. At Colorado State University, the Pride Resource Center’s Visible Voices takes on the role of tackling common misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community by students sharing their coming-out stories and providing support systems in what can often be a time of loneliness.
Visible Voices sets itself apart from other LGBTQ+ support groups on campus by spreading the word through students sharing their stories and provide positive LGBTQ+ role models. Educating the audience regardless of sexual orientation or how they identify helps students find their own community through their own experiences.
Visible Voices consists of a volunteer student panel where each shares their coming-out stories and addresses questions from the audience at the end of the talk. The panels provide a non-judgmental atmosphere where students can speak their truths and gain support from others.
“If you’re looking for a place to speak your mind and how you feel, come join Visible Voices or come to a panel,” volunteer panelist Reagan Ebbeler said. “Share your experiences to help people be comfortable with who they are.”
“If you’re looking for a place to speak your mind and how you feel, come join Visible Voices or come to a panel.” — Reagan Ebbeler, volunteer panelist
Extensive training to be a member of this panel includes inclusive terminology, how to avoid triggering certain memories or emotions among audience members and responding to questions or comments through the LARA method (listen, affirm, respond, add). Further resources through the Pride Center are also provided during the panel.
“I saw that it was an opportunity to share my experiences. It’s like when you see a movie you can identify with, it feels good and secure,” Ebbeler said. “I want to give that feeling of security to others who are struggling with who they are.”
Ebbeler encourages community members to listen to and support those who may be struggling with their identities.
“The panels are for anyone to listen to whether you want to join a supportive community, learn and understand what a person of another identity is going through, or if you just want to educate yourself.”
Students are welcome to attend panels put on through the Pride Resource Center, and faculty can request a student panel on the Pride Resource Center’s website.
Visible Voices gives the opportunity for students to share their stories with others, now is an opportunity for students to listen to their truths.