The annual international Coming Out Day on 11 October draws attention to LGBTQ+ people who openly come out for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
At TU Delft, Outsite, DWH and True U are organising various activities. With this year’s ‘Coming Out: It’s not black and white’ theme, more attention is paid to LGBTQ+ people in minority groups. To help increase the visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, students Eva Pelk and Musy Ayoub and teacher Cecile Kalis talk about their coming out.
Musy Ayoub (23 years, computer science engineering)
“I am half Persian, half Egyptian. My mother comes from a country where homosexuality carries the death penalty. So before I told anyone about my bisexuality, I first wanted to make sure that I felt 100% right. When I came out to my best girl friends when I was 18, I was really ready to do so.
At a certain point I had a boyfriend and wanted to share the news with my family. I first told my sister-in-law who, like myself, was born in the Netherlands. After she responded positively, I dared to come out to my brother. He was perfectly fine with it and was mostly curious about my boyfriend.
Funnily enough, my mother initially didn’t respond badly either. Until I brought my boyfriend at the time home. She was very fierce and angrily asked why I had brought him home. In her culture, a different orientation is illegal and, if people find out, it will affect your life negatively.
Since then I have had little contact with her. I don’t want anyone in my life who does not accept me for who I am. That was my own decision. Naturally I hope that some day we will be in contact with each other again, but at the moment, if we talk, I feel that there is a barrier.
- “I think that it’s healthier for us all if diversity would be celebrated and valued more. And that applies to the ‘ordinary’ heterosexual too. If such a thing exists.” Read the story of teacher (Architecture and the Built Environment) and chairman True U, Cécile Calis.
I have always been open about my orientation in my course. I have also met so many similar people. What does strike me though, is that both at TU Delft and in society, there are very few LGBTQ+ people who look like me. There are very few queers of Persian descent. So that made me realise that if there are no role models for me, I will have to be the role model for others.
I do this by speaking out and by showing who I am. I am here, my boyfriend and I are here. I hope this helps raise awareness. If I walk down the street with my boyfriend, I see that people sometimes stare at us and even point and comment. It’s a pity that they don’t just leave us alone, but I am not afraid. I won’t silence myself. I want to leave those fears behind. And what’s the worst that can happen? That we get beaten up? I’m quite tall and look surly by nature so I think I can look intimidating. Luckily I have never experienced violence.
But it’s not only me who can be a role model, TU Delft can be one too. Personally, I don’t know any queer teachers and the discussions that I have at TU Delft are mostly academic. It would be a good start if TU Delft would take the claims about homophobia just as seriously as it does fraud. But TU Delft is still overly cautious in this.”
- Read more about the activities that Outsite, DWH and True U are organising around Coming Out Day 2020.