Coming-Out Week events are going on at college campuses around the country. At Iowa State University, Jen Sanford is a member of the L-G-B-T-A alliance that she says has three missions on campus. She says they want to be a supportive place for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community as well as allies and supporters. She says especially for freshmen, it can be doubly scary to be away from your friends and feel like you don’t fit in anywhere.
She says it’s also a social group for gay students on campus. They hold social events, she says, like a recent drag show, rallies in campus and poster campaigns. There also are weekly general-assembly meetings to plan activities like bringing in speakers including politicians, but they also play games, hold discussions…”all kinds of fun things,” she says. A third goal is educating people on the I-S-U campus, but not in academics. She says a lot of people in Iowa come from small towns and “just don’t know” about issues involved in being gay or transgender.
She says the group tries to “open people’s eyes” to the diversity that exists on campus. She laughs when asked if the group tries to “recruit” students to a gay lifestyle. She says she’s not sure what it might mean to “become gay,” saying some might like to think the group tries to change people, but it’s just there “letting people know that we’re out there.” She says if people want to come and get actively involved, or just see what the group’s about and then never come back again, “that’s totally cool.”
Sanford says Iowa State has a large gay and lesbian populations that’s not involved with the alliance, and people who are straight but are supportive and want to be involved. She says students who are gay at the University of Iowa and those who support equality are encouraged today (Tuesday) to donate unused clothing and other items they find while “cleaning out their closets.”