By Shania Kuo
Every club has a different goal. A glimpse into a future profession, a cultivation of hobbies, an opportunity for new interests. There are simply too many to list. In Oyster Bay, new clubs are springing up every year, offering new opportunities to all students.
Still, there is a club that is largely unknown to most students. Now, that statement in itself is a grossly broad statement. There are tons of clubs that go unnoticed, but there is one club in particular that has such a profound message that it is almost impossible to comprehend why it goes unnoticed.
That club is The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), soon to be known as Sexuality and Gender Awareness (SAGA).
The purpose of the club is to promote acceptance of the LGBT+ community. However, there is so much more behind the club’s name. If one just looks at the name, it is simple for one to misinterpret the meaning. Sadly, the club is so often referred to as GSA that many kids do not even realize what it even stands for.
Based on the name alone, it is simple to think that the club is only intended for people who are members of the LGBT+ community; however, the club is anything but that. The Gay Straight Alliance’s members consist of a myriad of students from different backgrounds. Michael Brady, a member of the GSA Club, and one of its most active members, stated, “It’s just a really nice group of people. They’ll always be open to helping you. And I think it helps a lot with becoming more confident in who you are regardless of how you identify.” Herein lies the message of the Gay Straight Alliance: acceptance.
During meetings, everyone is included in the open discussions. It does not matter if one is a first-timer or a senior member. Every member’s first meeting always leaves an impact because this is one of the only clubs where there are no qualifications or skills necessary. GSA is a club where everyone, regardless of sexuality, gender, or race, is accepted. In truth, that was GSA’s message all along.
Yes, the club does occasionally have somber meetings, especially before large events such as Grim Reaper Day where we tie the message in with support for the LGBT+ community. These meetings discuss the severity of what is occurring nationwide, yet the members still find ways to think of the positives and the impact students can make. However, most of the time, the club is simply a place to have fun and hold open discussions.
While the importance of being aware and spreading awareness about the LGBT+ community remains the main goal of GSA, acceptance of all people also stands as a top priority. The only way GSA can truly live up to its name is if all people, regardless of personal background, are accepted and can find a safe haven in the club. By promoting acceptance, the club fulfills both its main priority as well as supporting their secondary priority.
As time progresses, everything must undergo some type of transformation. GSA, up to this point, has withstood the shifting sands. However, the time has come for the club to undergo a change of its own. Not a single member or policy of acceptance will disappear. In fact, the change itself may be puzzling to many people. The Gay Straight Alliance has changed its name to Sexuality and Gender Awareness. To some, the message may not have shifted at all, yet it has.
GSA was a name that seemed to apply to only a small selected group when it really stood for the whole world. Jennifer Velasquez, the vice-president of the GSA club revealed, “We decided to change the name because we thought GSA, Gay Straight Alliance, was not inclusive enough of all sexualities and that it sort of promotes the idea that you’re either gay or straight, which is absolutely not true. It also didn’t include anything about gender, and we thought it was a really important subject that should be included.”
SAGA is not looking to force people to accept a person’s sexuality. What SAGA wants, is to provide a safe haven for those in need of one and spread, not force, awareness in order to one day achieve universal acceptance. After all, acceptance is really the message of this new saga for the world.