Gender and Sexualities Alliance rallies for equality and acceptance

Posted: May 31, 2015 Updated June 1, 2015| Written by: Crystal Olmedo

Equality and acceptance was the message behind Riverside City College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance Rally held May 26.

“We had the event to help (students) feel better in their community,” said GSA President Hailey Wilson.

The club marched from the Quadrangle to the the Bradshaw Building, blowing whistles and making proclamations of their pride.

“We are the Gender and Sexualities Alliance and we are proud of who we are!” GSA members exclaimed.

After returning to the Quadrangle, GSA members and supporters gave personal testimonies and offered words of encouragement for those who have suffered from discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Why? Why are people being hurt and discriminated against for being who they are?” said Fabian Hinajosa, GSA Vice President.  “… everyone matters, every human life matters. Take a stand.”

Another RCC club, the Secular Student Alliance, was present to show their support of the GSA.

“We partnered with GSA because we know what it’s like to be discriminated against,” said Secular Student Alliance Secretary Roberto Hernandez. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in, you shouldn’t stand up for discrimination of any kind.”

The Student Secular Alliance is a club for “agnostics, atheists, skeptics, freethinkers and other non-religious students.” Some of the group’s goals include community service and to “cooperate with other groups of both similar and dissimilar viewpoints to foster understanding and communication.”

GSA event coordinator Asher Jones also spoke at the event about GSA’s motivation.

“We are allies. We love you … and that is our message. We are your supporters,” Jones said. “We have no agenda except love and equality and to stop discrimination.”

Author, journalist and former instructor Faith Eileen Bryan, served as a representative of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and gave out T-shirts, flags and stickers to all who donated to the organization. HRC advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to have equal rights in the workplace, at home and in their community.

“I met Asher at an event in Palm Springs and he told me about the GSA. This is my third trip out here to Riverside … I can identify with the students and I am willing to drive the 50-60 miles from Long Beach to come to events,” Bryan said. “Students are the future … If you get students involved now it can really make a difference. I hid in a closet for 58 years and if me coming out here inspires one person it’s worthwhile.”

Jacquelyn Bang, a RCC part-time English instructor,  joined in on the rally and expressed her support of the GSA. Bang set up a table on campus Feb. 15, National Adjunct Walkout and Awareness Day, to pass out literature and bring attention to little known facts about adjunct instructors, another group that is often overlooked and underrepresented. According to Jones, Bang will be an adviser for the club in fall 2015. Their current adviser is Stacy Eldridge, a RCC associate professor of Chemistry.

The GSA is open to all RCC students no matter what their sexual orientation is.

“We are very open. So even if you are not a member of the Gay Community, come join us,” Wilson said.

The rally ended with the GSA playing music for all present to have the opportunity to let loose and dance.

Jones said he was pleased to see lots of participation and that the GSA hopes to make the rally an annual event.

GSA meetings for the remainder of the spring 2015 semester will be held Thursdays 12:50-1:50 p.m. in the Math and Science Building.

Meetings for the fall 2015 semester will be Thursdays 12:50-1:50 p.m. in the Nursing Building  Room 152 and Skype meetings at RCC.GSA on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Wilson said the club plans to hold Skype meetings during the summer as well.