This year’s OUTober events will celebrate LGBTQ History Month through keynote speaker Mesma Belsaré, an Indian LGBTQ activist, and expanded programming which will involve a new Campus Ministry event.
Belsaré, an Indian transgender woman who is a classical Bharatanatyam dancer, painter and actor, will speak at an event called “The Creative Process” Oct. 10. The event will be sponsored by the South Asian Society, Rangila, the LGBTQ Resource Center, The Indian Initiative and Lecture Fund.
The event featuring Belsaré will focus on how her various social identities have shaped her journey in both art and dance. Belsaré will also discuss the principles of Bharatanatyam, the oldest classical form of Indian dance, and what her process to becoming established in the dance looked like as a member of the LGBTQ community, according to Rangila co-coordinator Avni Kulkarni (NHS ’21).
The event will also include a question and answer section where students will be able to engage in conversation with one another and hopefully discuss ways that the South Asian community can be more inclusive of LGBTQ members, according to Kulkarni.
“I hope this sheds light on what it means to hold LGBTQ identities in a South Asian place and what we can do as a community to make LGBTQ representation more inclusive within our community,” Kulkarni said.
Bringing Belsaré to talk about her experiences as a South Asian member of the LGBTQ community is important in bringing awareness to stigmas around sexuality within the South Asian community, according to Co-Director of Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives for Rangila Satya Adabala (SFS ’22).
“I believe that it is truly important to reflect on the reality of some of the stigma in the South Asian community regarding LGBTQ identity, and as it is OUTober, we wanted to collaborate with the LGBTQ Resource Center to explore some of these important topics,” Adabala wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Campus Ministry will also host a LGBTQ-affirming mass for the first time on Oct. 20, according to LGBTQ Resource Center Director and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs Sivagami Subbaraman.
“That is a big milestone for our communities and we are really grateful,” Subbaraman wrote in an email to The Hoya
OUTober will include the annual celebration for Coming Out Day in Red Square on Oct 11. The celebration will feature music and a “closet door,” which students can symbolically “come out” from, according to GUPride Co-President Siena Hohne (COL ’22).
GUPride will also be hosting a smaller, more casual event later that day for students to share their coming out stories and queer experiences in a more intimate setting, according to Hohne.
“Our goal for this event is to provide a space where closeted or more low-key members of the community can still feel celebrated and welcomed,” Hohne wrote in an email to The Hoya.
OUTober is a tradition that began in 2012 to honor LGBTQ History Month. The LGBTQ Resource Center celebrated its 10th anniversary during OUTober last year.
GUPride will potentially host an event for International Pronouns Day Oct. 16 and are in the process of finalizing their keynote speaker, according to Hohne. The official schedule for OUTober will be released next week, according to Subbaraman.
OUTober provides students in the LGBTQ community an avenue to express their identity in a safe environment despite being unable to proudly express their sexuality in other circumstances, GUPride Co-President Al Castillo (SFS ’22) said.
“Many members of the queer Georgetown community are unable to be open about their sexuality or gender identity back in their hometown, for risk of social and familial rejection, violence, and discrimination,” Castillo wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In comparison, OUTober provides the opportunity for the community to be out and proud of their identity as a queer person on campus.”
This article was updated Oct. 4 to correct that campus ministry is hosting a new event for OUTober this year, not that this is the first time Campus Ministry has partnered with OUTober. The article was also updated to correctly reflect that Coming Out Day is Oct. 11 and that International Pronouns Day is Oct. 16.