Honoring National Coming Out Day in Special Collections

Honoring National Coming Out Day in Special Collections


October 11th is National Coming Out Day, which has been celebrated on campus since the early 1990s. The 1991 volume of The Rhododendron, Appalachian State University’s yearbook, showcases the significance of National Coming Out Day, as well as the creation of SAGA – the Sexual Awareness Group of Appalachia. Students are shown proudly wearing t-shirts created for the occasion, which feature artwork by American graffiti artist Keith Haring.


Pages from the 1991 Rhododendron on National Coming Out Day


SAGA President Richard Huffine is quoted as saying, "There was a definite interest in having a group that was dedicated to accepting diversity on campus and supporting the community that held those diversities…We encourage all people to be honest with themselves and others and to openly share there [sic] differences with others."

SAGA created a display in Belk Library with books on LGBTQ-related topics, as well as the National Coming Out Day t-shirt.

The yearbook also includes a photo (below) of SAGA members in the section on Special Interest Clubs and Organizations.


Image of members of the Sexual Awareness Group of Appalachia from the 1991 volume of the Rhododendron


A founding member of SAGA and AppState alum, John Magers ‘94, was interviewed in 2008 as part of the Appalachian State University Memory Project in which he talks about creation of the organization and what life was like as gay man at AppState. During his interview he states, “...we kind of started it for more social reasons maybe than anything… we wanted everybody like us to feel like we weren’t alone…“ Magers' oral history is available here.

Additional information on the history of SAGA and National Coming Out Day at App State can be found in an online exhibit about LGBTQ life in Watauga County, created by alum Kathryn Staley, on the website OutHistory.

For more information about the resources in the Special Collections Research Center, contact spcoll@appstate.edu or 828.262.4041.

- Contributed by Veronica A. Wells, Adjunct Assistant Professor.

A photo from the 1991 volume of the Rhododendron that features the Sexual Awareness Group of Appalachia
Published: Oct 10, 2023 4:04pm