The M-A GSA has embarked on another year of spreading information and raising awareness for LGBT+ issues. I sat down with Diana Gruber, co-vice president of the GSA club, to discuss the groups’ mission and plans for the school year.
Gruber sought out the GSA her freshman year, looking for support and affirmation of her bisexual identity. “I’m bisexual and I didn’t know a lot of people who were out, per se, so it was great to meet people who were like me and who wanted to discuss their experiences,” she recalled.
However, she has noticed that within the LGBT+ community, some people are uncomfortable being involved with GSA “because they’re not out or don’t want to be associated with it or involved in the social justice aspects of it,” which she notes “is completely valid.” Gruber recognizes the dangers and discomforts of being part of the LGBT+ community at school. “There is a lot of homophobia and transphobia in the classroom,” she pointed out, “and a lot of people aren’t even sure if they’re [being transphobic] because it’s such a newly covered idea in the media.” Many students feel unsafe coming out, as “they might get bullied or actually injured, in some circles.”
With that said, she hopes to make GSA a supportive atmosphere for anyone looking to learn more about their identities, declaring that “everyone, especially people in the [LGBT+] community, should feel safe and drawn to GSA because I know I was drawn to GSA.”
The language and terminology of sexuality has become a centerpiece for LGBT+ awareness campaigns, and Gruber understands that so much information can be overwhelming to people outside of the community. She explains that “in the case of terminology, it’s really important that you understand that there are people who define themselves by that terminology, so even if you think that it’s too many words, or it’s too hard to remember, or you can’t be bothered with someone’s pronouns… that is their reality.” Dismissing the terminology in these cases often translates to a dismissal of the issues at hand. Gruber encourages anyone uncomfortable with learning about the range of sexual identities to examine the source of that discomfort and “ask yourself, would it really be that hard for me to learn what pansexual means and not make a joke about f***ing a pan?”
The GSA has established itself as a valuable educational center for allies as well. Recent graduate Marta Fatica conducted lunchtime sex-ed sessions last year, a program the club is looking to reinstate. According to Gruber, you should consider joining the GSA “especially if you are in the queer community or if you have questions… even if it’s not about your own identity, if you have relatives or friends in the community and you want to learn more how to be the best ally possible to them.” Gruber emphasized that one should “never be afraid to come to the GSA to ask questions and to learn more,” especially “in regard to how you treat other people,” both within the LGBT+ community and outside.
Gruber looks forward to another year of lessons and educational events, and she hopes to encourage open discussion of LGBT+ issues in order to “make M-A as safe a place as possible for every minority and every sort of marginalized identity.”