On a recent Wednesday in March, the faces of students, faculty, and staff beamed with enlightenment at the Bengal Ally Mixer at Buffalo State. For those in attendance, there was a common goal: support and visibility. This mixer provided a safe and open space for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to meet and become unified on campus.
The event was made possible by the Bengal Allies and the Buffalo State LGBTQ+ Resource Center, whose mission is to “provide a safe, inclusive, and celebratory environment for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.” The center seeks to “provide members of our campus community with resources that will support and affirm each individual’s process of self-discovery and identity development and facilitate connections between our campus and the Buffalo community.”
Bengal Allies was founded in October 2016, on National Coming Out Day. The organization hosted its first major event in 2017—the “Big Gay Dance,” which drew over 200 people.
“It was a fun night, and people responded right away. We received messages from people wanting to know what they could do to help more,” said Sean Terry, student activities assistant for Student Leadership and Engagement and Bengal Allies co-chair.
"I am so proud to work with allies in our campus community to enrich the experience of LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff,” said Charlene Vetter, Bengal Allies co-chair. “We have accomplished much in a short time with the crowning jewel being the opening of our Resource Center.”
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center opened in October 2018 with six interns. Since then, it has accomplished much on campus with events and aid to help allies become more involved and informed. The LGBTQ+ Resource Center is located in Campbell Student Union 105G and exists to serve students as well as faculty and staff. It’s open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for everyone to simply come in to meet people and lounge.
“The best way to be an ally is to become more educated, learn the terminology, and ask questions,” said student Tevin Liao.
Bengal Allies will hold events during LGBTQ+ Pride Week, which begins on Monday, April 1. The organization holds bi-weekly meetings in Campbell Student Union 415, the next being on April 1 at 1:00 p.m. The next Bengal Ally Mixer will be held Wednesday, April 3, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Fireside Lounge.
Pictured: Students Tanner Cerrillo, Ty Powell, and Gina Marie Ciappina in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
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