For one week every October, BQSA holds a variety of events in celebration of National Coming Out Day. At the start of the week, LGBT students and allies come together to write messages of affirmation and pride in chalk on the sidewalks throughout campus. Events continue throughout the week, and culminate in Yellow Shirt Day, described below, and a party. Past OutWeek events have included a trivia night at the Pub, a dinner and workshop on sexuality with author Rachel Hills, a student panel about queer relationships at Bowdoin, a vigil for the Pulse nightclub shooting, a screening of gay films, and a coming out themed storytelling event.
Yellow Shirt Day
Every fall during OutWeek, students, faculty, and staff from all areas of campus wear yellow shirts provided by BQSA for one day in support of the LGBT community on campus. This annual tradition began in 2005, when Michael Heath came to campus to speak about his efforts to overturn a state law banning sexual orientation discrimination. Students protested his views by wearing yellow to his talk, and since then, the yellow shirts, which now read “Respect All Genders and Sexualities,” bring together athletes, activists, faculty and staff, LGBT community members, and allies.
Every February, BQSA plans another series of events throughout the month to engage Bowdoin’s LGBT community and the campus community at large. Past events have included parties, weekly screenings of uplifting LGBT movies, a cookie sale to raise money for Immigration Equality (an organization supporting LGBT immigrants’ legal rights), an open mic night, and a matchmaking event for the LGBT community called Rainbow Seven.
In 2017, several BQSA members traveled to Marlboro, Massachusetts for a weekend in January to attend First Event, a conference for transgender adults, youth, and families. We hope to make this trip an annual occurrence, as well as to put on our own workshops for conference attendees in future years.