Wow! In what was close to an all-time record, 55 GASPers gathered together for our first meeting of the 2015-16 school year! Thanks so much to the students, faculty and staff who were able to come out in support. It was so great to see old friends after the long summer, and as great to meet new friends for the long year ahead.
Our new President Amy led us through a quick introduction and check-in on interesting summer activities, and gave us a tour of the queer alphabet, helping to educate all of us on the wonderful complexity and diversity in this community. We went over a quick history of GASP, which is now beginning its 8th year of existence; we are not recognized as an official student organization at PUC. Among our few rules – we are committed to listening to each other’s stories and showing them respect; we are committed to confidentiality and not identifying people who come out as LGBTQ in the group when outside the group.
We got an overview of the other two groups that are part of the GASP family. “Safe Place” – which is a network of PUC faculty and staff who signal their support of and respect for LGBTQ students by displaying a sticker in their office (PUC’s refusal to allow us to access to institutional communication resources makes it difficult to spread the word; any interested PUC employee should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org). Also “Our Place” – which is a confidential group run exclusive by and for LGBTQ students. Our Place Coordinator Cam described the functions of the group, including face-to-face gatherings in private homes, outings, and support in times of crisis in person and via social media. Anyone interested in joining Our Place should contact Cam or Amy.
We then had time for more extensive check-ins with people who experienced a variety of important events over the summer, including gay family weddings, coming out to family and friends, processing old traumas and slow healing of important relationships. Listening to these stories I was reminded again of what a special and important space GASP has become. It is great to have this home base at PUC, for so many of us.
We will meet again in two weeks, on October 7 at 8:00 pm.