October 11 marks the 31st anniversary of National Coming Out Day for members of the LGBTQ+ community. For the first time on the campus of D’Youville College on Buffalo’s West Side, faculty and students celebrated with an unveiling of a mural by the steps of its College Center building. The event dubbed "From the Closet to the Sidewalk" encourages inddividuals to come out of the closet in a environment which is safe and friendly.
Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Ben Grant said the rainbow mural is a part of D’Youville’s mission.
“Right now, more than ever we need this,” Grant said. “D’Youville never refuses to serve. And today, D’Youville College is serving the LGBTQ+ community.”
Grant said the mural is a symbolic gesture of the school’s inclusivity. Grant said people in the LBGTQ+ community have to deal with the loss of family, friends and support for what they identify as, and a common phrase in the community is “you get to choose your family now,” meaning you can find your own support networks and choose the people you want to associate with. Grant said he is proud to have chosen D’Youville as part of his family.
Local artist Casey Milbrand designed the mural, naming it “As Is.” Having struggled with his identity when he was younger, he said the mural was inspired by his own experiences.
“There’s so many more things about us that you should really love,” he said. “I didn’t want to create a typical Pride mural. I wanted to put some thought into it.”
Milbrand says the design of the piece is origami-like, with the feeling of finally accepting yourself is what matters most.