By Amanda Joerndt
National Coming Out Day is celebrated by millions all over the country on Oct. 11, and Youngstown State University is putting their own twist on the celebrated day to bring the student body together.
YSUnity: SOGIE Society is a student organization on campus that allows students to bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community, to have a sense of belonging on campus and attend events to support their identities and community. SOGIE stands for sexual orientation, gender identity and identity expression.
YSUnity members and Ani Solomon, associate director of diversity programs, have collaborated their ideas for the events taking place on National Coming Out Day on campus.
Starting at 10 a.m., there will be a banner in the lower arcade of Kilcawley Center for anyone to sign in support of the LGBTQ+ community, along with rainbow sprinkled donuts.
At 7 p.m., a social will take place in The Cove of Kilcawley, where food and a trivia game will occur for students to win prizes.
YSU students can come to the events and learn more about YSUnity and different ways to get involved in events supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Solomon said there is a place for everyone on campus regardless of who you identify as.
“I like the fact that anyone, no matter what they look like or where they come from, they can be a part of this community and it could be a piece of who they are,” she said.
Solomon said that no matter who a person is as an individual, anyone can be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“When I think about my overall job topic, it’s all of the different identities and experiences we hold. People of all different identities and background can identify within the LGBT community,” she said.
Carissa Brennan, a senior middle childhood math and language arts education major, is the president of YSUnity.
Brennan said YSUnity is important for students on campus to become educated on what the LGBTQ+ community is about.
“Many people come from high schools where they had little to no out students or teachers, they have never seen a drag queen or heard of bisexual before,” she said. “Hopefully, with this group we help people break down stereotypes and know that we’re all the same at the end of the day.”
Events that YSUnity hosts on campus to raise awareness and to bring people together are painting the rock, drag shows and group outings for everyone to attend and be themselves.
National Coming Out Day is one of the biggest events for YSUnity and they love to share the celebration with everyone each year.
The group also aims to educate students on how to stand up for what they believe in and to bring a sense of peace to the community.
Brennan said she has learned how to stand up for her beliefs in a nonviolent way.
“I’ve also learned to not be silent anymore and speak up for what I believe in, but in an educational way instead of a fighting way,” she said.
Paige Beaver, treasurer of YSUnity and a second year biology pre-vet major, said her goal is to make people feel at home within YSUnity and the LGBTQ+ community.
“I know personally, if I had not found YSUnity, I would feel like I didn’t have a place here,” Beaver said. “So bringing awareness and letting people know they have that safe place is really important to us.”
A new event YSUnity is hosting is Drag 101 on Oct. 12, with the host of their drag show, Mya Garrison, coming to demonstrate how to do drag makeup.
YSUnity is open to anyone on campus who wants to meet new people and understand more about the LGBTQ+ community and not to be afraid to be themselves.