By Sam Bailey / Staff Writer
With October being LGBT History Month, many students at Hutchinson Community College are looking to the past to honor those who made LGBT pride globally celebrated.
This year is particularly important to the community because 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. These riots are widely considered to be the start of the equal rights movement in the LGBT community.
The HutchCC organization Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is looking to October to further understand LGBT history. GSA is sponsored by Janelle Voth, who sat down with The Collegian to answer some questions about LGBT and GSA.
“LGBT was the original designation.” Voth said, “In the last 10 years or so there’s been more [letters] added to it to be more encompassing of some of the different genders and sexualities.”
Hutchinson Collegian: Why is LGBT History Month so significant in the community and the outside world?
Janelle Voth: [It’s significant] just like Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. [They] encourage you to learn more about the people who came before you and the differences in different cultures. It’s exposure for those that are not in the community and for those in the community to pay tribute to those who came before them.
HC: What strides has the LGBT community made in the past and how are things continuing to change for the better?
JV: The Stonewall Riots kicked off the equal rights movement we have been battling for over 50 years now. And then, just a few years ago, there was the Marriage Equality Act, and so we’ve been granted the right to get married. That was four years ago now that that was granted [but] there’s still quite a bit of stride to be made, especially here in Kansas.
HC: What struggles do the community still have to fight through?
JV: Just as recently as last year the legislature proposed a bill that basically compared LGBTQ to people who would have sex with animals. To know that someone believes that about another human being is, for me, depressing. The One Man One Woman bill started here in Hutchinson so we’ve been fighting quite a bit with that conservative mindset here in the community. It’s a constant battle, especially in a conservative community such as Hutchinson.
HC: How do these hardships affect the students at HutchCC?
JV: There are students in Hutchinson right now whose parents don’t know that they are LGBT because they are afraid to come out and be themselves with their own family. It’s important to these kids that they are represented because now they’re away from home and able to do some things that make them proud of who they are. If we’re not represented in government then its still an uphill battle.
HC: What is the Gender Sexuality Alliance?
JV: It’s primarily a social organization. They meet [and] discuss issues that are related to being LGBTQ. We talk about coming out, we talk about history, [and] we talk about different things they can do. It’s also a time just for them to know that there’s other people that are like them and to learn more about people that are similar but may be different.
HC: How many members are currently in GSA?
JV: We have approximately 17 members at this time.
HC: If anyone is interested in joining the organization, who should they contact?
JV: My door is always open for anyone who wants to stop by. I’m in the mailroom and my extension is 3515. You can call me at any time; if you are not comfortable talking to me and you would just like a fellow student to talk to I have a couple of students who would be willing to talk on a one on one basis with others.
HC: What upcoming events are the GSA hosting?
JV: We’re going to be hosting a drag show in November on campus. It will be raising money for our events and for possibly starting a scholarship for LGBTQ students.
HC: Is there any other information students should know about GSA?JV: We’re always looking for friends who support us for being us and affirm us in our lives as much as we affirm them. So allies are important. [Even if you don’t necessarily] identify as LGBTQ you are more than welcome to come to a GSA meeting and just learn more [about] how to support your friends.