The Queer Straight Alliance was created to be a safe place for the queer community to find just that: a community. The meetings generally begin with introductions and greeting newcomers with welcome appreciation, and tend to focus on budgeting and event planning, with laughter and fun interjected throughout.
On a recent Friday afternoon in Syre Student Center room 217, about 10 students came together to show their support for the QSA. The meeting was buzzing with sidelined chit-chat and robust bursts of laughter.
The group is run primarily by the students themselves. Taylor Brooke and Donna Thorne, sophomores at Whatcom Community College, are the co-presidents of the QSA and take charge on subjects such as budgeting and finances.
The recent name change from Gay Straight Alliance to Queer Straight Alliance was a deliberate alteration made to fit many other compilations of students. “Both [transgender and gay] communities are fighting for the same thing: equality and acceptance,” Brooke said.
Transgender, gay, bisexual, straight, cross-dressing and all other in-between individuals are welcome at QSA meetings. “There is a separation but we need to be more unified,” said Brooke.
“I have made lifelong friends here” said Aaron Dickson, a Western Washington University sophomore. Dickson began going to QSA meetings when he started at Whatcom through the Running Start program. After two years of attending Western, he still chooses to attend Whatcom’s QSA. “I saw this guy in a dress and was like, ‘I am in the right spot,’” Dickson said with a laugh.
“I feel safe in QSA, talking about my personal life, and that’s because I’ve built [these relationships],” Brooke said, “but it can be frustrating talking about gender when people aren’t willing to open their mind.”
Thorne also expressed a love for QSA and what it stands for. “I was really, really excited about gay marriage. We had a party and I’m pretty sure I cried,” Thorne said in reference to the passage of Referendum 74, which allows for gay and lesbian couples to legally marry in Washington State.
QSA’s upcoming project, the Day of Silence, was started in 1966 as an anti-bullying movement. The Day of Silence has recently been adopted by the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. On April 19 students will show their support by being silent all day as a way to create awareness about the silencing effects of harassment.
QSA is packed with strong, humble and fun loving young people: “If you can ask me a question that will embarrass me, I will take you out to dinner,” Brooke joked.
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