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.
- “If there are no role models for me, I will have to be the role model for others.” Also read the story of Musy Ayoub (23, student computer science engineering).
Cécile Calis (48, Architecture and the Built Environment teacher and Chair of True U)
“When I was 21, I fell in love with a woman for the first time. It was a shock! Even though nothing happened, I still told my parents. I should have known better. They were already finding it hard that I had boyfriends, and this was worse. It was something that families were ashamed of. So my news was simply ignored. I realised that if I followed my inclination I would marginalise myself from society, so I just hid it. It wasn’t hard in Delft; there were enough interested men and it seems that you can fool yourself just as easily. I simply forgot it. But it wasn’t brave of me. In the meantime I was secretly jealous of students who were openly lesbian without any problem. Or so it seemed anyway. An unattainable goal I thought.
Much later, long after both my parents had passed away, I fell in love with a woman again. And again I told someone, this time, my husband. He couldn’t cope with it, understandably, and didn’t want to talk about it.
But I didn’t want to suppress it anymore. What then followed was a whole process involving watching lesbian films, reading books, becoming a member of a gay sports club. It’s much more than just sexuality. The whole world in which you have grown up, everything including your way of thinking, is heteronormative and everything gets turned upside down. It would have helped then, and now, if I had known that there were other LGBTQ+ colleagues. But that does not fit in the TU Delft culture of just getting on with things and not standing out. While I really love that culture, I now see how much more breathing room there would be if people could be different if they wanted to be. Even more so, I believe that my being ‘different’ could be an asset as I look at things from another perspective.
- Also read the story of Eva Pelk (21, student industrial design engineering), in which they tell about them coming out as a non-binary person.
This is why I became a member of True U, the LGBTQ+ network for TU Delft staff. It is important to be visible and not be afraid. It is important to talk about it with each other. The good thing is that sexual orientation ‘affects’ everyone: students, support staff, teachers with completely different beliefs than mine. It goes right through the organisation. Since I joined True U I am talking to more people from other faculties than in all the years before that. It is good for the cohesion on campus and I would like that for everyone. And you don’t even need to be an LGBTQ+ person yourself. 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 more about the activities that Outsite, DWH and True U are organising around Coming Out Day 2020.