Finding Diversity

A few students huddled in a square of couches, getting ready for the first 100% Society meeting of the year. They were excited to formally meet the 100% Society’s new adviser, Dr. John DeFelice. The meeting began. Everyone was a bit nervous about the change in advisers, but ready to dive in.

The 100% Society has a reputation. Since it is the LGBT+ support and activism group, people tend to think that they have to be gay or otherwise part of the LGBT+ community in order to join. That is not true. All are welcome. The “A” in LGBTQIA stands for (among many other things) ally.

The 100% Society prides itself on being a safe space for the diverse community on UMPI’s campus. The 100% Society gained its name for a reason. They “accept 100% of people and there is 100% no judgment,” club president, Kirsta Willhide, said. By accepting everyone and being a safe space, the 100% Society aims to build community, to make people feel less alone by realizing that there are people like them on campus, be it gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or an ally.

Back when the 100% Society was still looking for an advisor, according to Willhide, finding “someone who is understanding, supportive and likes to build community” was a top priority. And they found that person in DeFelice, who sees the 100% Society as a way to “provide support and communication for the community.”

Community is what it is all about. The 100% Society does numerous activities throughout the year, including their main community building event. That is, annually, that the 100% Society attends the Rainbow Ball, held this year at the University of Maine at Machias. The Rainbow Ball is a series of talks and workshops about LGBT+ issues and diversity. Groups from all over the state attend, connecting people and universities in new and unexpected ways.

By making people feel connected, they are part of a community. When people feel as though they are part of a community, they open up and allow themselves to become their true selves and are happier for it.

The 100% Society meets Mondays from 4-5 p.m. For more information, contact Kirsta Willhide at kirstawillhide@gmail.com.