Rainbow Alliance holds candlelight vigil as part of Rainbow Week

Mariana Alfaro, Development and Recruitment Editor

Despite having to move indoors due to rain, Rainbow Alliance, an LGBT student interest group, held a candlelight vigil Thursday night as part of its annual Rainbow Week.

The vigil, originally intended to be held by the Rock, was moved to Harris Hall. About 10 students participated in the commemoration of National Coming Out Day, which will occur on Sunday.

During the vigil, students shared their coming out stories and talked about their experiences of being queer at Northwestern. They also read the names of trans women who lost their lives due to hate crimes this year.

Though no candles were lit, the event maintained a solemn atmosphere in remembrance of those whose coming out experiences were not easy, holding a moment of silence in honor of them.

Medill senior Bo Suh, co-president of Rainbow Alliance, said the group chose to host the vigil near the end of the week because, compared to the other events Rainbow Alliance held this week, the vigil dealt with a more somber topic in a less social atmosphere.

“We wanted to have the events at the beginning of the week to be more social and to be more engaging … so that the new members can feel more comfortable with us so that later in the week they can feel more comfortable to share their stories,” Suh said.

Weinberg sophomore Yamari Lewis, a member of Rainbow Alliance’s programming committee, said she was happy with the event not only because of its turnout but because many participants were willing to share their stories.

Suh said this year’s Rainbow Week events have been well-received by first-year students.

“Rainbow Week generally has a pretty good turnout because it’s the first main thing that we do in the year because Coming Out Day is usually in early October,” he said. “I definitely think that a lot of freshmen are very excited to join a queer and trans community because not everyone comes from a very liberal area or high school that had any similar sort of organizations.”

A recurring theme during the vigil was students tending to feel more comfortable with their different identities at NU than they did back home.

“Northwestern specifically, I think, has a really decent sense of community that I haven’t seen in a lot of other colleges that I’ve visited as well as like family and friends go to,” Lewis said. “Just to give that space where … there’s still plenty of people here but you still feel like there’s at least an intimate space or at least an intimate feel.”

Rainbow’s publicity chair Sylvia Regan said certain NU resources allow students to feel comfortable with their own identities, using the diversity and inclusion Essential NU hosted by Jamie Washington during Wildcat Welcome as an example.

“You very quickly learn that this is a place where you can be proud of different parts of your identity that, whether it’s an ethnic identity or a sexual identity, that it’s okay to talk about it and to do things based on that,” she said.

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