This interview was conducted by Andrew Willis for The Statement, February 24, 2013.
1. What is the general purpose of the GSA?
The purpose of the Gay-Straight Alliance is to be a safe space of discussion and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals. We say that “Yes, it’s OK to be gay, and who you love or what gender you identify as does not affect the content of your character.”
2. Do you have to be gay to be in the GSA?
No, it is open and welcoming for straight, transgender and bisexual individuals to join and participate, and we encourage straight students to do so. However, it is expected by myself and our organization that our discussions and actions will be affirming and welcoming of both same-sex and opposite-sex sexuality as well as gender non-conformity. We will support, not condemn, your sexual orientation or gender identity.
3. How would you describe the GSA’s involvement in MGSC? (What events have you put on in the past? Do you have any plans for the near future?)
Members have engaged in advocacy both on and off campus. In the past, our members have protested against anti-gay hate speech in our student newspaper, participated at protests against so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy as advocated by various misguided religious institutions, advocating before the Bibb County School Board for safer schools and, as done in February 2012 by our former president Amanda Studebaker last year, advocated before the General Assembly in Atlanta for the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Bill (HB 630), a bill which would outlaw employment discrimination against state government workers on the basis of sexual orientation. Our GSA actively supports its passage into law, and members signed letters to our representatives calling for its passage.
In addition to regular meetings, where we discuss news, personal experiences, history and activism, we have held an LGBT Movie Night in the Residence Life Game Room, a welcoming event for a cross-state bike ride ridden by members of Georgia Equality (a civil rights advocacy organization from Atlanta), a trip to the LGBTQ and Allies Conference at Georgia Southern University in November 2012, and a “NOH8” protest against anti-gay bullying during the “Day of Silence” on April 19. In the future, we will hold another Movie Night and more events, and we invite ideas for more LGBT-inclusive events and activities on our campuses. We hope to extend this in the future to Warner Robins, Cochran and other campuses.
4. How would somebody get involved with the GSA at MGSC?
I would suggest coming to one of our meetings, usually on the Macon campus, in order to get a feel for what we discuss. But since the Macon and Warner Robins campuses have a history as commuter-friendly campuses, we also encourage people to get into contact with us on Facebook, Google+, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For personal, one-on-one inquiries, I can also be contacted by personal email at harry.underwood1987@gmail, and our advisor Dr. Sheree Keith can be reached at email@example.com. We invite honest, good-mannered questions and messages of support.
Also, could I get your major and age for the article? And just to clarify, what is the title of your position in the GSA? Thanks again for answering these questions!
My name is Harry Underwood, I’m a senior majoring in New Media and Communications (NMAC) and pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Science, and I’m the president of the GSA since Fall 2011. I will be graduating this semester.
Thank you for your questions!