GALA prepared to help cope
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 16:03
“What if it was you?” asked René Orozco, communications sophomore at Northwest Vista College and Gay Allied Lesbian Association president at this college. He also is enrolled here.
A room of 23 people divided into groups of four during the GALA meeting Feb. 29 in the faculty and staff lounge of Loftin Student Center to discuss coping with being kicked out of their home as a teen because of sexual orientation.
Orozco asked GALA members to discuss survival needs, security, resources available to gay teens and 20-somethings, roadblocks and community resources.
The club changed its name last fall from Gay and Lesbian Association to the Gay Allied Lesbian Association.
After brainstorming, the members returned to the full group to review suggestions.
“I don’t think, even if you’re not displaced, that you could ever be safe,” said theater freshman Julie Dunsford.
Other members agreed, saying they are careful to whom they reveal sexual orientation.
Sometimes, friends’ parents are no more accepting than their parents, leaving gay teens to rely on resources in the community.
Psychology freshman Opal Ransom said, “They’re really stuck with the kindness of strangers.”
Orozco said he brought the issue to the group because of an 18-year-old gay person he knows who is in that situation. He said one of GALA’s missions is to be prepared to offer help to people who need support or are discriminated against because of sexual orientation.
Club members agreed. One participant told a smaller group, “I had to leave my house with nothing.”
Some of the ideas generated by the group were to have a reliable network of friends and family, become informed about shelters in the city, consider alternate modes of transportation and get in touch with an adviser or mentor to help cope with rejection.
Orozco added, “Going with your gut is probably the best thing (for safety).”
GALA acknowledged a new co-adviser Julie Rázuri, American Sign Language and interpreter training instructor. Lead adviser Richard Farias, English instructor, did not attend the meeting.
GALA ensures that all attendees are comfortable at the meeting by having them introduce themselves, say something interesting about themselves and announce their preferred gender pronoun, commonly referred to as PGP.
Orozco reviewed club guidelines, such as respecting each others’ views, no dating within the group and respecting people’s confidentiality.
“What is said here, stays here,” he said.
The Ranger does not publish members’ personal information without consent because the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has historically been discriminated against and some members have not publicly identified themselves as gay.
Orozco asked at the beginning of the meeting if any members had an issue with being quoted or photographed by The Ranger to say so.
Orozco also mentioned GALA’s participation with an unofficial group called the SAC Alliance.
After the meeting, Orozco said the alliance is an extension of the Presidents Round Table and allows club presidents to coordinate with each other on events.
For instance, at the meeting, theater sophomore Alan Galvez asked members of GALA to assist the OnStage Drama Club with one of its biggest fundraisers of the year, a dinner theater where they performed the play “Almost Maine” March 2.
Galvez said he needed people to help serve food and beverages and clean the area after the event. He said the club will recognize GALA at its end-of-the-year banquet.
Interior design freshman Erika Gonzalez, who started a sign-up list, said, “We’ll be there for y’all whenever you need help.”
Psychology Adjunct Cay Crow, who teaches human sexuality at this college, will present on sex and transgender issues 2 p.m.-4 p.m. April 11 in the Fiesta Room of Loftin.
She also will conduct a question-and-answer session to address audience concerns.
GALA teamed with Psychology Club members to organize the event.
“I think it would be very educational for anyone who comes,” Orozco said.
For more information about GALA, call Farias at 210-486-0673.