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Sheridan College’s Gay Straight Alliance offers students a safe place to meet

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Khotso Young and Daumoun Khakpour, GSA members.

Whether gay, lesbian, transgendered or straight, outed to the world or concerned with privacy, Sheridan’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club invites students of all orientations to a relaxed and safe venue to meet new people. Launched last year with the assistance of Student Union Vice President Emma Alguire, the GSA is led by Khotso Young, and VP Sabrina Labbee.

“I started it last semester, in about January. It was pretty bad at the beginning, but now it’s just rocketed,” said Young. “We had a meeting last Tuesday. It was incredible. There had to be fifty people crowded into the student boardroom,” said Young.

As with all Sheridan clubs, the GSA is a Sheridan Student Union sponsored organization. “We’ve received tons of backup (from Sheridan), Student Union is full-throttle behind us. Emma (Alguire,) the VP of clubs, is incredible. She’s giving us a certain amount of money each year, and participates in the clubs as well,” explained Young.

Daumoun Khakpour, a straight member of the GSA, elaborated on the value of a place where anyone can express themselves without fear of judgment.

“I fully support what (Khotso) is doing, of course. Everyone needs a meeting place,” said Khakpour. “Even in today’s society, we think we’re an open, liberal community but some people still have backlash from their families, from their religious beliefs. They need somewhere to confide, and Khotso has given them that place. Even if you help one person, that helps an entire world, and if she can do that, she’s done something, right?”

The GSA has suffered the growing pains and organizational troubles faced by all newly launched clubs, but has come out stronger as a result. Young said, “In the past, it was a little dysfunctional, I’m not going to lie. We held a few bake sales, things like that. This year, we have so many crazy ideas. We’re hoping to do a ‘Gender-Bender Pub’ night. We’re also hoping to do a mini-Pride parade at Sheridan, though it would be a little hard to do that ā€“ not everybody at the group is ‘out.’ We hope they let us help them become stronger and realize this is something you’ve got to fight for. Nobody is forced to do anything they don’t want.”

The GSA’s doors are open to everyone, regardless of orientation, not just gays and lesbians. Transgendered, straight, asexual, two-spirited ā€“ all are equally welcome, Young explained. “Two-spirited is a Native belief where you believe that you are of both sexes. It’s basically a bi-sexual term, a little politically correct, which means you have the spirit of both a man and a woman. There’s gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, two-spirited, queer, questioning, indigenous, asexual, straight. They’re just names. I classify under queer, I classify under lesbian, indigenous… I prefer to be called ‘lesbian’ but don’t go up to me and say ‘Hi, lesbian!’ Every single one of these groups is represented in our club.”

Young offered advice to students considering joining the club: “The most important thing is, if you come to the group, you are helping so many other people. Let’s say someone goes to a meeting and they see six people sitting around, they’ll think ‘oh my God, I really am all alone in the world, only six gay people at Sheridan?’ But if they come and see 50 of us, we’re all sitting there, it’s ā€“ aaah, I’m not alone!”

“Let’s say you meet someone, go on a date, that date turns into 10, those 10 dates turn into a relationship, engagement. It’s beautiful,” said Khakpour.

For more information, contact Khotso Young or Sabrina Labbee.

This story originally appeared in the Sheridan Sun.

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Written by tomczerniawski

March 14, 2010 at 11:54 am

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