Spectrum: Auburn’s Gay-Straight Alliance is bringing the first LGBT conference of its kind to campus from March 29-31, bringing together LGBT communities from all across the state.
Spectrum was created for support, advocacy and educational opportunities for LGBT students. They hold frequent meetings and events each week, including educational meetings on Wednesdays, bi-weekly social nights and charity events.
Raven Lenard, a fifth-year student in studio art, holds the title of advocacy chair in the organization and was part of the initiative to bring the conference to Auburn.
“There are a few major points: education, support, advocacy and outreach, and its ways in which we can strengthen those parts of the GSAs across the state,” Lenard said. “It’s basically whatever efforts we can do to spread awareness and spread education, and it’s open to anyone on campus.”
The idea for this conference came about a year ago when the 2017-2018 director of outreach decided that there was a need for a larger outreach program. He spent the past year working on this project instead of keeping his title so the concept of a conference could turn into a reality.
In addition to the talks and presentations throughout the conference, there will be free food and drinks provided. On Friday March 29, there will be a social held at a local coffee house for members of the LGBT community and their allies to interact and learn from each other.
“I think the biggest hassle that we have is since the word LGBT is in the name, allies forget that they can also be involved in it, because it’s a collaborative effort,” Lenard said.
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Recognizing the strength of LGBT members and allies of the movement was a point that Lenard emphasized throughout.
“If you have different LGBT people advocating for themselves, it becomes self-advocacy, which can be difficult and tiring in a sense,” Lenard said. “There’s only so much that a marginalized group can do in terms of advocating for themselves, where an ally’s voice would be higher.”
Lenard said Spectrum has been growing significantly in the past few years, not necessarily in consistent numbers, but in the impact it is making among the Auburn community.
“Throughout all these years, I’ve never seen a conference that would bring together all the GSAs in the state until this past year when someone who’s actually an ally wanted to do it,” Lenard said. “This shows that even though we are a smaller group, we can put on something that is as big as what UPC puts on, and UPC can put on some pretty fantastic things.”
Spectrum has plans to continue growing with the younger generation of the LGBT community. The older members are currently training newer members to take over what they are about to leave behind.
“When we band together, we become louder and stronger,” Lenard said. “In the five years that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
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