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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary’s celebrates two-year anniversary of LGBTQ+ center, National Coming Out Day

Rainbow cupcakes, pride flags and vibrant pins and stickers lined the tables of the Saint Mary’s LGBTQ+ Center on Wednesday in celebration of its two year anniversary.

The LGBTQ+ Center puts out flags and treats during the celebration of their second anniversary.

In addition to honoring the anniversary of the center, Saint Mary’s students also celebrated National Coming Out Day at the Division for Inclusion and Equity’s event titled ”Celebrate the Rainbow.”

Thalia Mora, student assistant at the Division for Inclusivity and Equity, helped organize the event. Mora explained how the LGBTQ+ Center has been a positive addition to her time at Saint Mary’s.

“As an LGBTQ+ plus student, it’s really cool to see that there’s a space on a campus that was not seen as historically progressive to take action for the LGBTQ community,” she said.

At the anniversary event, students socialized and expressed gratitude for the space. Junior Jaida Beasley was at Saint Mary’s when the center opened, and she said she has seen the different the center has made a difference on campus.

“I think being able to see such a huge community get together made a huge difference on campus,” Beasley said. ”I think a lot of people met equals, and it was a really great day.”

Junior Monique Morse expressed a similar sentiment and she also touched on the role of the center in her own life.

“I know that when it first opened, I was a bit scared of myself, so I was too scared to come here. Since then, I’ve really accepted myself and this community,” Morse said. “I am really grateful that it’s here and that it is a place where we can all come together and learn more about each other and just know that we are appreciated.”

Redgina Hill, vice president for Inclusion and Equity, helped create the LGBTQ+ Center. Hill said she is grateful to have brought the space to the Saint Mary’s community because students were asking for a space on campus for several years.

“The center has been a long time coming. There were conversations that were had over 20 years ago about potentially having a space on campus,” Hill said. “Alumni come and express how great it would have been for them to have a safe space on campus to authentically live as themselves.”

Hill gave her perspective, as an administrator, on the importance of having the center on campus for LGBTQ+ students who may not be supported otherwise.

“I think it’s giving voice to some of our students that may not have had outside of the institution or from where they’re from. So I think it really has a positive influence on our students to just be proud of who they are,” she said.

Both Hill and Mora said they hope to hire a staff member in the future who would be specifically oversee the center and the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

“[I hope Saint Mary’s] adds some sort of staff member that oversees LGBTQ concerns. Also, programming that would really uplift the voices of students rather than students having to do the work,” said Mora.

Hill said she was happy to have created a safe space for students, and she hopes the space will create an accepting environment on campus.

“I see it as a place or a signal of belonging for students who may not feel like it’s easy to live in a world that may not accept them for who they are,” she said. “I see it as a signal for students, faculty and staff that we see you, we hear you and we want you to know that you belong here.”