GASP Meeting 7.11: April 1, 2015

So great to be together again with the GASP community after the spring break. Twenty-five gathered together in a slightly different location (DH 107) to share hopes for the new quarter, and to reflect on recent developments. We discussed at some length the experience of our sister school Andrews and the Miracle of the Bake Sale, which even when apparently stymied led to the raising of almost $12,000 for Project Fierce, which provides housing for homeless LGBTQ adolescents. Their story inspired our leaders to share with us the work of Larkin Street, an organization in San Francisco that brings “supportive housing to homeless youth — many of whom identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender”. We watched one of their videos, which told stories of kids whose parents responded to their coming out as LGBTQ by putting them on a bus to San Francisco, where they often wound up on the streets. The videos can be seen on their website here: http://larkinstreetyouth.org/about-us/. We agreed to explore ways in which GASP can support Larkin Street – stay tuned for some ideas in the future. We also discussed the meeting at Union College last month of NAD Adventist Youth Leaders that by all reports was a really positive example of how people of goodwill can come tighter and listen and learn and talk, and search for ways to make things a little easier for their LGBTQ neighbors. The discussion led in turn to a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation about our name. GASP stands for “Gay and Straight Persons” – and we have long been aware that restrictive use of the word “Gay” might be signaling a restrictiveness and exclusion that we do not at all intend. The GASP community is built on inclusion, drawing the circle as wide as possible. We often talk about issues of concern not just to gay men and lesbians, to bi men and women, to trans men and women, but also to intersex, asexual, questioning and the broad spectrum of people who do not feel themselves to be part of the hetero-normative categories – or who, in the words of one GASPer, simply identify as not-straight. There is a benefit in the identity our name has developed locally, and with its specifically including at least one of the explicit terms that communicates our concern with non-straight identity, as well as the invitation to straight people (and people not yet ready to come out as not-straight) to join us. But there is also a danger that its singular reference to “Gay” might lead many others in the community to feel left out. We had some preliminary brain-storming on alternative names, and also some endorsement of keeping our current name. One thing for sure, we want to find ways to communicate even more clearly that GASP is a home for all those who feel left out of hetero-normative categories of identity. We may also soon be posting on our FB Group asking the larger GASP FB community for their thoughts and ideas on the subject. Join us again for our next meeting on Thursday, April 16.

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