Story by Madison Wilder, The Saint Reporter
Photo courtesy of Facebook
Aquinas College Gay Straight Alliance hasn’t gone away this year. It’s now known as AQ Pride and is a club that looks to provide a safe space for everyone to engage in discussion about current issues surrounding gender and sexuality.
The name of the club was changed last year by the executive board to accommodate and provide support to people of all genders and sexual minorities. The club meets bi-weekly at 9:30pm in the RSO room on the second floor of the Cook-Carriage house. Club senior Vice-President Connor Dirksen said that the club is open to anyone with an open mind and an interest in discussion.
“Being a part of Pride,” said first-year and RSO Representative for AQ Pride Marissa Ebels, “for many of us, is an outlet to talk and discuss issues those within our community share. Gender and sexual identities have started to become normal enough to talk about.”
Ebels thinks it is important to have a sort of safe haven for the minorities represented in the group is very important.
The club has two main events each year.
“Our major events every year are Rocky Horror [a 1970’s musical comedy] in the fall” said Dirksen, “which we just had, and The Gender Bender Ball, which will be on March 18, 2016. We encourage everyone to come to these. The primary goal of them is to have fun in a space where people are free to explore their gender in any way they would like.”
Ebels says the group stands to educate people on differences among genders and sexualities of all kinds.
“There’s nothing wrong with being curious,” said Ebels, “to ask questions, to engage in difficult conversations and to be comfortable and and open about who we are. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what pronouns are used, where you grew up, what your religion is–it’s a safe place to talk, and discuss ways to educate and engage this community to become more pronoun inclusive and understanding of the community.”
Both Dirksen and Ebels encourage students to read the bulletin boards around campus to see upcoming events.
“We acknowledge Day of Silence every year,” said Dirksen. “We pass out free t-shirts during the week leading up to it and encourage everyone to wear them and join us for a solidarity march followed by our Breaking the Silence Event.”
To join the group, attend a meeting or get in contact with President Casey Dickerson or Dirksen.
“It’s hard for a lot of people to understand that what we look like,” said Ebels, “how we act, and what we like is not exclusively masculine or feminine. Having a club dedicated to being a safe haven for a Catholic community is important.”