The Gay Straight Alliance – formerly known as the Rainbow Alliance – is making a comeback after a two-semester absence, with the opening of its new resource center.
Currently, the resource center consists of only a bookshelf located in the curriculum lab of the Barkley Annex.
“We want to show this campus that we are a presence,” said Joel Sierra, freshman business major and GSA president. “Students need a place where they can feel safe.”
GSA members hope that the resource center will expand from just a bookshelf to eventually an entire room.
“With the resource center, we’re back on the right track and things are changing,” said Armando Tapia, sophomore communications major and GSA vice president.
As of now, Sierra and Tapia are happy to provide even the smallest space for students.
“We want to make sure that you can feel comfortable here,” Sierra said. “Even if you’re sitting in the room alone, you know in spirit, because this organization exists, that there are people in this campus that do support you.”
Fellow club members can affirm the support the GSA has offered them.
“It’s really awesome that now this could be a place where people can just go and be safe and don’t have to hide part of their identity,” said Jacky Castaneda, freshman chemistry major and club member.
“It’s a really big deal to kind of have to go around and have a mask put on you and not show that part of you.”
“I don’t feel alone when I’m with them,” said Euna Wong, freshman business major and club member.
All students, even those who are not a part of the LGBT community, can be a part of GSA.
“We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re excluded from our group,” Sierra said. “We’re not a clique, we’re an open organization.”
“Going to this club doesn’t mean you’re gay or a lesbian,” Tapia said. “It just means that you’re a person who cares. We’d never ask anyone to reveal their orientation or their gender identity at all.”
During general meetings, the GSA focuses on a wide variety of issues, not only ones that are LGBT-related. In a previous meeting, they touched on bullying and how one deals with it.
“We’re not just focusing on you because you fit in the LGBT spectrum or you’re an ally,” Tapia said. “It’s because you’re a person and you want to be a part of this club.”
The club’s name was changed because the Gay Straight Alliance is a more familiar name to current and prospective students, the media and the LGBT community.
“We knew that with saying ‘Gay Straight Alliance,’ it’d make it a lot more inclusive to our allies,” Sierra said.
The GSA hopes to be more involved with other organizations on campus by letting students know which of them are LGBT friendly.
Alongside the resource center, students can look for support from the Safe Zone Allies, an LGBT support and awareness program here on campus.
“I’m very excited that we have a fairly large safe zone of allies who are very supportive in keeping our campus safe,” said Andy Steck, Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies and GSA faculty adviser.
More than 100 faculty and staff members have gone through Safe Zone ally training. Office doors that bear “I’m a Safe Zone Ally” sticker let LGBT students know that there are safe places to go and trustworthy people to turn to whenever needed.
The GSA will host a Day of Silence in April, in which students take a day-long vow of silence to protest the silencing of the LGBT community and its supporters.
Kristina Bugante can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.