GSA’s LGBTQ+ panel offers a safe space for audience members to learn more

Sasha Harper, Staff Writer

Stock photo promoting equality. Nov. 8, 2016

Armstrong’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) hosted “A Panel of LGBTQ+ & Allies” Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Student Union Ballroom. A panel of over 10 members with varying sexual orientations were available to answer any questions an audience member may have. Audience members were encouraged to anonymously text their questions to be received and answered by the panel.

The panel introduced themselves and shared their orientation, showing the diversity and inclusivity of GSA. Panel members identified as transsexual, gender fluid, bisexual, homosexual, pansexual, demiromantic and heterosexual.

“Our Panel [of LGBTQ+ & Allies], has been a yearly event [for the last two years], so we have continued it out of tradition and for the great purpose it serves in helping people find out the truth about different parts of the LGBTQ+ community and the community as a whole,” Vice President of GSA Charles Breazeale said.

For example, an audience member anonymously asked “What does it mean to be pansexual?” A pansexual panel member responded, “I recognize your spirit. I don’t recognize what you have in your pants, I don’t recognize what you come off as in society. I recognize who you are as a person.”

Some audience members texted in questions such as, “Are you out to your family?” “When was the right time to come out and the right way to do it?” and “How did they react?” Those questions were embraced fully and answered in detail by multiple members, providing a wide variety of both good and bad experiences that the audience could relate to and learn from.

“No matter what your coming out story is, whether it’s good or bad, later on, I promise you, it gets better,” a GSA member reminded those that either had a bad experience coming out, or who have not come out yet.

Having a GSA on campus is important because there are very few resources for LGBTQ+ students on Armstrong’s campus, and we help serve as a unified voice for LGBTQ+ students on campus,” Breazeale said.

Another question, “How do you tolerate people in public who direct adversity towards your sexuality?” was given a thoughtful answer by a panel member.

“It’s all about patience because even though they’re saying hateful, ignorant things to you [. . .] don’t say a hateful or ignorant comment back [. . .] because when you say that, that’s what they’re going to associate the LGBT community with. They’re going to think we’re a hateful community instead of people that are patient and kind.”

A new organization called Transcend Armstrong is meeting Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in Solms 108. Healthcare providers will be answering questions specific to transsexual individuals but others are welcome to attend.  

Upcoming events for the GSA include Thanksgayving on Nov. 16 in University Hall 156 at 8 p.m. and the Spring Mixer planned for Jan. 18 at 7 p.m

Gay-Straight Alliance holds weekly meetings Wednesdays, at 8 p.m. in University Hall, room 156.