Last week, Unity successfully ran its second annual National Coming Out Week, a celebration that seeks to honor people from all sexual and gender identities who feel comfortable sharing with the world who they truly are. It’s also a week to show love, compassion and support to those who are still struggling to come out, and to remember that the battle for equality is anything but over.

“Justice Is What Love Looks Like In Public”, was the quote chosen to adorn the back of the white shirt with a paint-splattered rainbow on the front. An act of justice doesn’t require a law degree, or demands hours upon hours of your time. An act of justice can simply be speaking up when someone makes an ignorant remark about someone else’s identity, asking someone what gender pronouns they prefer to use, standing by their side when life is just a little too hard, or just letting that person know that they’re not alone. An act of justice only takes genuine care for others and little bit of love.

Seeing the Canisius community come together to celebrate gender and sexual identities is just an amazing experience. As the week progressed I was honored to witness students attend the gender bender on Saturday and just have fun regardless of the role they were playing that night, and see people rip hateful words from the Wall of Hate on Monday turning it into a wall of love and acceptance. I was lucky to walk around campus on Tuesday morning and realize that everywhere I looked at least one person was proudly wearing one of the shirts given out the day before and to experience a thousand of emotions as faculty and students came together to fearlessly express themselves through the literary reading on Wednesday. But, it was on Thursday when students became one voice as we sang together along Julia Weldon that I felt the love, support and a stronger sense of community.

Coming out is never an easy experience; it takes courage and acceptance, support, resilience and especially love. It’s reassuring to know that Canisius as a whole its doing everything in its power to let students know that regardless of their sexual or gender identity they will always be welcome here. I know that if it weren’t for that, my own personal journey would’ve been so much harder.

By Paula Uruburok

Consider joining Campus Ministry on its annual Always Our Children (AOC) retreat–a gathering for LGBTQ+ Allies members of the Canisius community. It will take place on Feb. 26-28, 2016.