GLBTSA advocates equality

Kayla Spivey, Assistant Layout Editor

Posters promoting Francis Marion’s GLBTSA organization can be found all over campus. GLBTSA stands for “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight Alliance,” but many students still do not know the organization’s purpose.

The organization was started in 2006 by two students, Xzaviar Boston and Arron Compton. At first, it was called the “Gamma Sigma Alliance,” which was later changed to “Gay Straight Alliance,” then to GLBSA, and now GLBTSA.

“The GLBTSA’s purpose is to promote equality and tolerance through advocacy and work with other organizations to bring acceptance for all, not only at FMU, but in the region and beyond,” Ben Miller, the president of the organization, said.

The organization meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Lee Nursing Building where the meetings are moderated by Janis McWayne, professor of gender studies. Meetings cover important information for upcoming events as well as preparation for those events. The last two meetings were spent making posters for National Coming Out Day, as well as planning for the Fall Festival to be held on October 30.

Along with posters promoting the GLBTSA organization, posters advertising “Coming Out Day” can also be seen around campus. National Coming Out Day will be held this year on Monday, October 11. It is one of the many events sponsored by the GLBTSA.

“National Coming Out Day is a day to celebrate yourself,” McWayne said. “You have a right to be yourself. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight, queer, questioning, uber-sexual, metro sexual, an intersex, a mem, a herm, or a hermaphrodite, no matter your sexual identity, on National Coming Out Day, you can come out as you are.”

McWayne explained that National Coming Out Day doesn’t only apply to sexuality. Anyone is invited to come out as whatever they choose.

“For example, I could say ‘I’m coming out as the GLBTSA faculty advisor’,” McWayne said. “Some have come out as ‘a newly engaged woman’, ‘a rock star’ and even ‘a wicked witch of the west.’ Everyone is invited. People write what they’re coming out as on a piece of paper and hang them on peg boards for everyone to view. It’s a good time, a lot of fun, and builds cohesion, collegiality and friendships to all who participate.”

Earlier this year, five GLBTSA members along with one student from gender studies traveled to New Orleans, LA to present at the Race, Gender, Class Conference. This semester, members had to submit proposals in order to be considered for next year’s Creating Change Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

According to the website, “The primary goal of the Creating Change Conference is to build our movement’s political power from the ground up to secure our overarching goal of full equality, social justice and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States.”

Topics for proposals included marriage and health. The six members chosen to not only attend the conference, but also present workshops, have steadily been perfecting their proposals. Once submitted, a panel of judges for Task Force, the organization holding the Creating Change Conference, will either accept some or none of the proposals. If accepted, the proposals will be presented as workshops by the selected GLBTSA members to attendees of the conference.

Those curious about or interested in becoming a member of the GLBTSA can start by attending the weekly meetings every Thursday in room 137 of the Lee Nursing Building. Membership dues are $10 per semester and go towards t-shirts. For more information, contact Janis McWayne at