The Gender and Sexuality Alliance, previously known as the Gay-Straight Alliance, is an on-campus organization at Weber State University where LGBTQ individuals and allies are welcome to join and be surrounded by a supportive community while participating in activism activities.
The name change was made to create a more inclusive view on gender and sexuality.
“The Gay-Straight Alliance creates a very binary view of sexuality — you are gay, or you are straight, and there’s nothing else,” GSA President Hannah Phelps said. “It also is very exclusive towards trans people, whereas the Gender and Sexuality Alliance is much more open.”
To help build this sense of community, the GSA will host parties and activities for the members, including pumpkin carving, skating, movies and games.
“It’s a place for us to come together and be together,” Phelps said. “It’s so easy to feel alone, especially in states like Utah that have very monolithic point of views.”
On the activism side of the club, GSA secretary Caleb McKinney is currently working with previous GSA members now working in the Davis School District to find ways the organization can help GSA clubs in middle and high schools after the ban on displaying pride flags at their schools.
Prior to COVID-19, the GSA had also done tabling events where they spread awareness on issues within the LGBTQ community, such as rates of addiction and support systems available to them.
According to Phelps and McKinney, many members of the LGBTQ community are disconnected from their families, so the organization tries to host holiday events like Thanksgiving dinners for those who still want to have a familial experience for the holidays.
Due to COVID restrictions, there had been no meetings for a year and a half. There were some efforts to continue meetings through Zoom, but they never came into full effect.
After the different issues that have occurred prior to this semester, they are trying to give the GSA a fresh start by renaming it to fully encompass everyone, creating the fully-welcoming environment it was before COVID.
“The GSA has mostly been a kind of affirmation of not necessarily needing to be alone, or an affirmation of a place to be more open about who you are,” Raven van Nacht, an active member of the GSA, said.
Weber Pride Week will take place the week of Oct. 10 this year. While it is still in the planning phase, updates on events being held will be announced on the Weber State GSA Facebook page.
The GSA meets every Monday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Center for Diversity and Unity in the Shepherd Union building.