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October 4, 2004

RIT Gay Alliance (RITGA) kicks off another school year

From: The Empty Closet, United States - Oct 4, 2004

The RIT Gay Alliance is a student organization that has been running for seven years. Their purpose is to provide support and advocacy for all gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and gay-friendly heterosexuals within RIT and the Rochester area.

RITGA wants to increase positive awareness of the lgbt community by hosting speakers, fundraisers, and participating in festivities such as coming out week, the infamous drag show, and so forth. RITGA also wants whenever possible to provide educational information on issues concerning lgbt issues as a means to curtail homophobia.

The meetings take place in Room 1829 at Student Alumni Union on RIT campus, every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. (This organization is open to public as well, not only to RIT students.) Anyone, straight or lgbt, is welcome to participate in this organization. RITGA encourages people who might be unsure of their sexual orientation to come to a meeting as well. If nothing else, you'll meet people who are similar to you.

The executive board is President David Guetzlaff, Vice President John Kusovski, Treasurer Jakkeea Kilpatrick, Communication Coordinator Brad Elsmore, Public Relations Tristan Blodyett, Webmaster Eric Kotz, RITGA Advisor Karen Pelc; and GLBT Senator Michael Caution.

I attended two meetings with my best friends. The meetings kicked off with 40-50 members (including deaf) attended compared to last year's attendance (about 10-20 members), as RITGA President David Guetzlaff stated. The recent meeting allows us, the members, to introduce ourselves and tell our purpose of attending to RITGA and what we expect from RITGA. After the meeting, I had a chance to interview with RITGA President David Guetzlaff.

Khanh Lao: What are your goals for RITGA?

David Guetzlaff: To offer a safe and social environment for glbt students, to promote awareness on campus, and to spread glbt issues in the community.

KL: What do you expect from RITGA members?

DG: I hope that all of the members would give us feedbacks, ideas, or suggestion about events for RITGA. If comfortable, they would work on events and help with educating the RIT community.

KL: What have you learned about the members' expectations?

DG: Most members want fun social environment and more public awareness on campus. They also want more awareness about glbt issues and to understand the perspective of the Bible and the gay community.

KL: Would you please elaborate the project for National Coming Out Week in Oct.?

DG: National Coming Out Week is from Oct. 11 to 16. There is no definite plan for that week's event. However, we have ideas for the plans. On Sunday night, we will chalk the cement on RIT campus. On Monday at 7:30 p.m., we will have vigil for Matthew Shepard and other victims of GLBT hate crimes at the Infinity quad on RIT campus. Tuesday is Movie Night. The movie(s) are to be announced. The location will be in Clark B at 9 p.m. Wednesday plans are to be announced. On Thursday, we will have a "fair" in Fireside Lounge at RIT, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. There would be presenters including Jennifer Gravitz, Karen Pelc and more. Friday plans are to be announced.

KL: How would you like to get RITGA members to be involved in the project?

DG: The major way is just coming out to support the events (no pun intended). Also, for these willing members, every hand we can get is helpful!

KL: What consequences of National Coming Out Week are you hoping to get?

DG: To help people, with fears of coming out, gain strength to proudly be who they are!

KL: Does RITGA get involved with Spectrum? (Spectrum is a gay organization for deaf students at National Technical of Institute for the Deaf - NTID.)

DG: RITGA has always welcomed NTID students, and hopes to have more of a connection with Spectrum in the near future.

KL: What would you like to see outside of RIT for RITGA members?

DG: I believe RIT has a lot of growing to do in the support of GLBT students, so that is where my main focus will be.

KL: Are you hoping to have RITGA members to be involved with GAGV?

DG: Same answer to recent question as above, however, I believe we can collaborate with each other and help each other out.

KL: Why did not RITGA subscribe to The Empty Closet?

DG: RITGA does not have a subscription to The Empty Closet simply because last executive board did not try to get one.

KL: Would you try getting The Empty Closet subscription for RITGA members? How do you plan that?

DG: I am trying my best to work to get subscriptions. I want to bring The Empty Closet to RIT campus (meaning anyone who would be interested to pick one to read), not just for RITGA members.

KL: Is there anything else that I should know about RITGA or worth mentioning for The Empty Closet?

DG: We are open to hearing/deaf, GLBT/straight, RIT students. Non-students at RIT are welcome, but are not technically members since we are under RIT's Student Government.

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New York State's Oldest Continuously-Published GLBT Newspaper
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