‘Coming out is something powerful’: Student finds acceptance at WSU

Agricultural education major became involved in campus clubs, embraced her identity



Emily Speed, left, and Nicole Synder, right, met at WSU. Synder says the WSU and Pullman community has accepted them as a couple.

JENNA GEELAN, Evergreen reporter and columnist

Nicole Snyder knew she was gay in sixth grade.

Snyder, junior agricultural education major, grew up in Southern California. She said she came out to her family and friends by bringing home her first girlfriend during her sophomore year of high school.

“Coming out is something very powerful,” Synder said. “The best advice that I could give would be to do it when you feel the most comfortable and supported, as well as then to embrace and love your genuine self.”

June is nationally recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. About 5.2 percent of Washington state’s population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a Williams Institute School of Law study.

Synder found an accepting, safe space to be herself while in Pullman, she said. She can hold her girlfriend’s hand whenever she is in public. 

Synder’s girlfriend, Emily Speed, is a senior human development major. Speed also said she is grateful for the open-minded community at WSU.

The openness and support she experienced throughout her life is not the case for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, Synder said. 

Speed grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. She said the discrimination she felt back home made her hesitant to come out as gay.

“I officially came out while being a student at WSU, and I am so fortunate for how amazingly nonjudgmental the people I am surrounded with are,” Speed said.

Synder said she is a member of many organizations on campus, including working for the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. She also held an ambassador position for two years. 

Snyder said she found organizations that shine a light on the LGBTQ+ community within her major, which includes the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences club. She has been a part of the club for two years.

Synder said her girlfriend and her both received different reactions from peers when they out, but the couple has found acceptance in Pullman.

“Adjusting to life in Pullman went fairly smooth in the sense of being a part of the LGBTQ+ Community,” she said. “Never once did I encounter any discrimination within the Pullman community or on campus.”