October is OUTober at Northeastern—a monthlong series of events that focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and asexual issues.
“The goal of OUTober is to celebrate queer history, culture, and community,” explained Lee West, assistant director of the LGBTQA Resource Center. “This includes remembering the generations across the globe who have struggled for queer liberation and honoring our community’s diversity and resiliency. As a month of pride, OUTober aims to [reclaim] spaces where queer lives thrive.
The month’s schedule includes events every few days, including a weekly film and discussion series and lighthearted game nights.
While pride month is generally celebrated nationally in June, the celebration at the university was moved to October, when more students are on campus. Last year, the Student Government Association voted to move LGBTQA+ Pride Week from June to the first week in October. In addition, Oct. 11 is recognized as National Coming Out Day across the country.
Next month, the university’s award-winning Reach (Out) LGBTQA+ Career Conference will bring together LGBTQA+ students and industry professionals for discussions around career development and identity, networking, and successes and challenges in the workplace.
The LGBTQA Resource Center on campus is also available as a source of information and community for students.
“Just in general, folks tend to seek out the resource center as a space to make community, to have a safe space,” West said. The resource center can also aid students through various processes, including navigating the preferred name policy on campus and managing roommate or other interpersonal situations.
According to the Office of the Registrar, students who identify as transgender or as gender-nonconforming may not want their legal names or gender to be used. Northeastern University supports the use of a requested first and middle name as well as the changing of the gender marker that would appear publicly in most university systems, while the legal name remains on record with Office of the Registrar for its internal records.
West said the center can also help answer questions students might have about services in the Greater Boston area.
“If students are looking for a place to get their hair cut in a way that doesn’t conform to typical gender norms, or if they’re looking for a broader Boston community, we can field those types of questions as well,” West said.
West said there’s been “an explosion” of LGBTQA-based student groups cropping up on campus in recent years. Those include NU Pride; Out in Business—a professional development group within the D’Amore-McKim School of Business; Out in STEM—a similar society focused on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math; and Grad Q—an organization specifically for graduate students. West said there are also several culturally-based LGBTQA organizations in the process of being formally recognized by the university.
“It feels like a time of growth,” West said. “It’s about getting students connected to communities that are a good fit for them.”