Although National Coming Out Day is technically on Thursday, UT is going to be celebrating two days early.
In order to raise awareness and appreciation for those in the LGBT community coming out and publicly identifying their sexuality and/or gender identity, the OUTreach LGBT & Ally Resource Center will be coordinating its own "Big Orange Coming Out Day" today at 12:30 p.m.
"It's just a day where you can either come out or celebrate people who have come out," said Jesse Ford, resource center director. "It's just sort of a visibility day."
National Coming Out Day is celebrated every year on Oct. 11. The date corresponds to the date of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which had a half a million participants and was the second demonstration of that nature and magnitude.
While the civil awareness day will be celebrated on a national level Thursday, OUTreach wanted to participate before the Fall Break began in order to maximize awareness.
"(It's) not on the actual Coming Out Day, unfortunately, but it's close to it," Ford said. "I don't think if we did a flash mob on the first day of Fall Break it would be very successful."
OUTreach will be holding a flash mob to celebrate. While a flash mob traditionally consists of people gathering together and conducting what appears to be a spontaneous performance, such a choreograph dance or skit, the OUTreach flash mob will be a bit more subtle.
"We're just going to keep with a visibility theme," Ford said. "We're not going to have ... any amplified music or things like that."
Those participating will be wearing matching orange and white shirts and passing out small gift bags containing information about the OUTreach Center, National Coming Out Day and the upcoming OUTstanding 2012 seminar. The bags will also contain candy.
This is not the first year that the UT LGBT community has celebrated Coming Out Day. While there was no celebratory activity last year, Ford said that the center coordinated a similar activity in 2010.
Ford also said that the planning and coordinating of the event originated in the "OUT to Lunch" Brown Bag Talks, which the center holds from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. every Wednesday.
"We got input from students during one of our 'OUT to Lunch' programs about what they wanted to do to celebrate Coming Out Day, and this was the most popular idea," Ford said.
Ford also encouraged anyone interested in helping out to do so. Those interested can simply show up at Pedestrian Walkway at 12:30 p.m. wearing orange and white. The flash mob is expected to last about 15 minutes.
"Everyone is welcome," Ford said. "We hope people will come and show their support and celebrate National Coming Out Day with us."
Coleman Garner, senior in psychology, is one of the students that plans to participate in the flash mob.
"It's an effective way to raise awareness," Garner said. "It gives people a sense of community. It also sends a message that we're not alone."
Paige Rupe, junior in public relations, also hopes to attend the celebration.
"I think it's really important just to have some sort of strong basis to get that information out," said Rupe. "Not just information, but the idea of the whole day. ... And a message of equality and tolerance and acceptance. I think that's a very important thing to have, especially now."