Former Ithaca College student body president, Zack Ford ’07, will be the featured speaker for National Coming Out Day at 7 p.m. Thursday in Emerson Suites A. Ford will discuss invisible Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender identities and the challenges society creates for those identities.
Ford, a current editor of ThinkProgress LGBT for the Center for American Progress, said expressing invisible identities and coming out is the start to a lengthy voyage.
“I’m going to be talking about the idea that LGBT identities are invisible, and coming out is only the beginning of a long journey to integrate those identities into our lives,” Ford said. “In other words, when we first come out, we’re really just opening a door we spend the rest of our lives walking through.”
The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services organizes a speaker associated with the college or the district community. Past speakers have included poets, artists and elected officials. Program director, Lis Maurer, said that Ford can make people aware of the complexities of LGBTs.
“Zack’s unique experiences help remind people that we’re multidimensional,” Maurer said.
Ford said he will discuss the challenges of the “culture war” that LGBT people face, and even if people are not personally ashamed of their identities, society may still be cynical.
“Regardless of whether we’re out-and-proud activists or not, we still exist in a society rife with negative messages about those identities,” Ford said. “Our mental health is subject to the consequences of being exposed to this ‘culture war’ against us.”
Ford will also recount his personal coming out experience, which he said occurred as an Ithaca College student.
Maurer said the event will give people the chance to consider the assets and difficulties of LGBTs and how obstacles can encourage buoyancy.
“It is an opportunity for LGBT folks, friends and allies to think about the unique challenges and unique strengths,” Maurer said. “With challenges comes resilience. We thrive. Challenges give us the opportunity to develop coping skills.”
National Coming Out Day has been celebrated in the world since 1988, and Maurer said coming out is not easy.
“Coming out is a complicated, multi-layered process,” Mauer said.
On Wednesday students can ask questions regarding LGBT identity on a Twitter chat using the #AskZack hashtag.