Clarion supports coming out with rainbow of handprints

Clarion, Pa.- In support of National Coming Out Day, a celebrated LGBT holiday, Clarion Allies and the Secular Student Alliance teamed up with the university student body to paint the rainbow with handprints on the iconic apple structure in the middle of campus.

Much like the holiday’s initiatives on the national scale, this event was all about encouraging people to come out, support LGBT rights and show their support in a physical way.

Allies President Katie Ellinger said this is the first year they painted the Clarion apple in their design.  Last year, the club painted a banner to be put on display in the Gemmell Student Center in a similar fashion.

They decided to go with painting the apple this year instead of another banner because although a banner is a permanent artifact of LGBT support, a painted apple was a more public way to show support for those who are looking for it.

Students gathered to feel and taste the rainbow on Friday, Oct. 9, quite literally.  While the weather was little to be desired in the sometimes pouring down rain, LGBT supporters congregated underneath an awning that sheltered those who painted their hands and received “Starbursts” and “Skittles” for their efforts.

National Coming Out Day was celebrated nationwide on Sunday, Oct. 11.  The recognition of this day began in 1988 to commemorate the anniversary of the march on Washington D.C. for LGBT rights in 1987.

President Ellinger thought the more impromptu event was appropriate given the purpose of the apple sculpture on campus.

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Students came out on Friday to paint the palms of their hands and imprint their support for the LGBT community.

“The sculpture was put in for the campus to show how they feel…[the apple] is a public work of art made by everyone,” Ellinger said.

Ellinger was not the only one vocally supportive of their community effort.  Besides those who wielded the megaphone to get the Clarion student body to be active in the event, members of both Allies and SSA had a lot to say about the movement.

Allies member, anthropology major and junior Angelina Rodkey said, “It’s important for people to know about National Coming Out Day.”

Clarion University alumnus and member of Allies Logan Shreffler is still an active member of LGBT activism and the college community.  “We want to encourage people to be comfortable with who they are,” said Shreffler.

The apple redecorating was all about people being able to gain their own confidence by acknowledging they have support in many places.

President of SSA and Secretary of Clarion Allies Lauren Hiner was present at the apple painting in support of LGBT rights and her former club’s ideals.

“Not only do you have to come out in the LGBT community,” said Hiner, drawing comparisons to what some feel when coming out about being atheist, agnostic or otherwise.

“It’s important to have this day for coming out in beliefs,” Hiner said.

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Dozens of colorful handprints courtesy of Clarion students cover the apple structure in the middle of campus.

Both organizations have plans for continuing the talk on LGBT rights and coming out about beliefs near the end of this month.  Clarion Allies is going to partner with the History Club to show the film “Stonewall Uprising” in recognition of LGBT History Month.

The Secular Student Alliance will be hosting the “Graveyard of the Gods” in front of the Gemmell Student Center near Halloween to recognize gods of old that are no longer primarily worshipped.  SSA meets regularly on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in Founders Room 116.

In regard to Allies, you can view their gallery of the National Coming Out Day apple structure on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/clarionalliesofficial/.

While the apple has now already been painted over in support of another cause, you can view the rainbow-colored handprints online to capture the memories for future LGBT celebration.

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