Unity, Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s (TAMUK) Gay-Straight Alliance, held their first club meeting on Wednesday, September 5.
The organization promotes acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) community and its allies, holds their meetings every Wednesday, and is currently accepting dues of five dollars.
“Unity is a place where the LGBT, even the alliance, come and just be safe,” said President Monica Martinez. “It’s really hard for them to come out and be themselves, so this is a place for them, a good surrounding for them to be themselves, not to be afraid to show their colors. We’re here to help them in whatever way they need–emotionally, education-wise–anything they need.”
Among returning members at the meeting, there was a number of freshmen students, including Nick Salyers.
“I come from a very small school, my graduating class was thirty-five, so I’ve never been introduced to any gay people so I just thought, just break out of my shell a little bit and meet new people,” Salyers said.
Martinez said that while not many students know of Unity, the organization is very active on campus.
“[Fundraising] is perfect for us to be able to be known out there and for us to be more involved in campus and be able to voice our opinions, our beliefs, and not be judged by them,” said Martinez. History professor Dr. Shannon Baker, Chair of the History, Political Science & Philosophy department, has been the current faculty advisor for Unity since 2008.
“It’s a student population that I’ve always cared about and been concerned about wanting them to feel safe and be themselves on campus,” said Baker. “Every success they’ve had is student-driven, but it just means a lot to me that they trust me to be their advisor.”
Baker greatly supports the student leadership and advocacy of Unity around campus.
“At the meeting, a ton of the students were freshmen, and for incoming freshmen to know that Unity exists if you’re a gay kid and you just moved here and you’re just starting college, can you imagine how scary that would be?” Baker said. “To be able to go to Unity your second week of school, and meet people that understand what you’re going through and just know you have a safe community, that really is priceless. And so I think just continuing to do that is a huge service to the community.”
As a new member, Salyers hopes to promote tolerance on campus and in the community.
“Proving to people that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or anything that’s considered abnormal is okay, and to show people that being different is what makes our society itself, that it’s what makes America unique.” Salyers said. “I hope to gain more friends and just a better understanding of what promoting Unity and promoting tolerance of everybody and it having an effectover the entire school.”