Unity: Bringing the campus together since 2001
On Oct. 7, the Bart Mitchell Quad was the site of a celebration of pride and acceptance for the whole Canisius community. Although National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is actually on Oct. 21, Unity could not wait to commemorate the day with food, music, lawn games, stickers, tote bags and Play-Doh, of course.
When speaking with Unity's E-Board, they stressed the importance of this event in creating a safe environment for people to be who they are without fear of judgment. One E-Board member even said that last year’s NCOD was the first time they were able to come out themselves. Each year Unity has done this event, they have had a tremendous turnout of 200 LGBTQIA+ faculty and staff, as well as allies, leaving proud and filled with love (and food from the Cheesy Chick food truck).
Since Unity’s establishment in 2001, the club has made a strong effort to support queer students and educate the population on matters of gender and sexuality. President of Unity, Lio Salazar, noted that Unity stands on three pillars: educate, advocate and support. These are objectives that coincide with Canisius’s Jesuit values. Unity provides a space for students to be open and authentic while teaching other students about how they can maintain this space. This aids the holistic care of mind, body and spirit and fosters diversity and respect, similarly to the Jesuit value of “Cura personalis.”
National Coming Out Day is an event that is all about “magis.” "Magis" means “more” — giving more, doing more, being more. Unity holds allyship workshops to educate those who want to be better allies to those in the queer community, and the event itself is a way for allies to show more of their support. Unity, as well as the National Coming Out Day event, created a place where students can be themselves in the truest and most authentic sense. According to Unity, when students (and people in general) are able to be more themselves, they are then allowed to be the best version of themselves: a version that can put so much good out into the world.
All in all, Unity is encouraging people to be who they truly are and NCOD was no exception. One of the club’s main objectives is making students comfortable in their own skin, such as by providing outlets for expression like paintable rocks, paintable tote bags and pride stickers. As “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga blared through the speakers and almost everyone sang along, it was impossible to not feel the warmth and love in the cold, windy air that afternoon.
Unity believes in letting students express themselves freely, and that their gender and their sexuality is not a privilege to only be lived out on special holidays and occasions. They believe that it is a right that all students deserve as a way to be proactive members of their community and society as a whole.
Unity’s next event will be a celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility on Nov. 20. Until then, check out Unity on Instagram (@canisiusunity), or stop by their club room (WC009) right across from the commuter lounge – It's the one with rainbow handprints on the door!