Jawanza Tucker knew he was gay when he was 5 years old.
Tucker, a 21-year-old UF telecommunication senior, said he began coming out to friends and family his sophomore year of high school.
On National Coming Out Day, held Wednesday, other LGBTQ+ students like Tucker will be recognized. The Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, the Reitz Programming Board and Students Taking Action Against Racism will host events Wednesday celebrating LGBTQ+ pride.
“This event is a beautiful thing,” Tucker said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction in a community that isn’t as inclusive as some cities.”
The event is a step toward a more accepting campus, said Nicole Bianco, a Reitz Programming Board director of special events.
From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. students can make buttons and decorate messages in a bottle at the Reitz Union Amphitheatre, along with a chance to share their coming-out stories.
“The message in a bottle is sort of inspired by the idea of keeping a message sealed but eventually being able to share that with someone,” Bianco said.
There will be a discussion about stigma and intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community and a showing of the film, “Moonlight” at 7 p.m., she said.
“I am most excited to hear students tell their stories,” Bianco said. “I feel as though that may be the most impactful and empowering to others.”