Love is a terrible thing to hate

By Sheena Segun-Oye

Features Contributor

During the week of Oct. 11, National Coming Out Week took the campus by storm and it’s safe to say that the event has taken on a life of its own. This is a week to recognize and celebrate members of the LGBTQ+ and ally community, a week to raise awareness of the community’s interest and rights to do whatever they want and be with whoever they want; a week that coming out feels right, a day to enjoy the freedom that has been worked hard for over these past years while proudly flying the rainbow colors. 

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Unity invited LGBT+ faculty and staff members to speak on a panel answering questions about their experience. 

National Coming Out Day was founded in the United States in 1998 by Robert Eichsberg and Jean O’Leary, which marked the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Canisius College’s own LGBTQ+ and ally community, Unity, once again recognized National Coming Out Day with an annual five-day tradition that’s been going on in the college for over seven years now. There were series of events planned from Wednesday to Saturday that made students on campus see people who they already knew, who they already liked, who they already respected, who happened to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and it was a great experience.

Some saw the importance of coming out from the perspective that sharing their stories was a key way through which each of them could fight back against attempts to turn back the clock on LGBTQ+ equality.

President of Unity, Maddie Reed, expressed her feelings on coming out, saying, “Coming out is an never-ending process. Sure, it’s most difficult to come out to family out of fear of if you will be accepted, but you have to come out everyday — to friends, strangers, the clothing store worker, your coworkers and boss, your doctors, everyone. I am very lucky to come from an accepting family, church and group of friends, but that doesn’t make it easy. The fear of being rejected or being labeled as ‘other’ is enough to keep someone in the closet for far too long.”

The celebration for the week kicked off on Wednesday with the Wall of Hate, Coming Out Closet and t-shirts. Outside the Student Center, students stopped by to take down a word of hate from the Wall of Hate which at the end revealed the quote of love for this year: “Love is a terrible thing to hate.”

Students could sign anything they wanted in the Closet, and get a free purple ‘Straight Outta the Closet’ T-shirt. On Oct. 12, Old Main 314 was open to anyone interested in reading, or just listening to, any literary piece on gender and sexuality. The evening began with refreshments, a comfortable atmosphere, and lots of talented, inspiring and powerful poems, stories and reflections. When the evening eventually came to an end, no one left the room without lots of emotions, a deeper sense of understanding that there’s something admirable about being true to oneself in the face of struggle, conflict and hate, and, well, a couple of goosebumps.

The next day was the Professional Panel. Five of our faculty and staff in the LGBTQ+ community came together on a panel to talk about their experiences being out in the workplace and the challenges that they’ve had to overcome. They reflected on the love and support they have received at Canisius, but reminded us that this is not always the case, especially on a Catholic campus.

National Coming Out Week came to a close with the Gender Bender Party on Saturday evening. However, a drag show — “a cultural celebration, and never supposed to be offensive or scandalous” — was not authorized. Students have thought this extremely hypocritical to the notion of being yourself and taking care of the whole person, cura personalis, “when LGBT people want to celebrate where we came from in history, and talk about how the only place we could dress and act as we wanted was in bars and night clubs, it is forbidden,” as a club member said. This was a social event with lots of dancing to upbeat music, a photo booth, and let’s not forget, delicious food. It was even more fun because people showed up in whatever gender or costume they wanted and the ‘Best Dressed’ was announced at the end of the night. It was the perfect end of the night. Students did come hungry but left happy. It was the perfect end to the week.

At Unity, National Coming Out Week has become an important holiday. It is a deeply personal experience to open up one’s self, come out and live openly, and the experience is different for everyone. They aren’t just coming out because they feel pressure to do so, but because they have made the choice for themselves, with the support of everyone at Unity, who have recognized the ‘closet’ as something that only exists because of the assumptions society makes about what the default is.

A member of the LGBTQ+ community advises, “Be open. Because regardless of whether or not people accept it. I’m not afraid to tell them how it is. It’s important that there’s a voice for that.”

Another person voices, “I like who I like. I’ve dated both girls and boys. I’ve been with people who aren’t what they were born into. You fall in love with a person’s mind, a person’s soul, not with whatever’s down there.”

As we go about our daily lives on campus, let us remember that the only thing that can defeat hate is love.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Beautiful article ❤️

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