One club at Salt Lake Community College is working to provide a sense of belonging to all LGBTQ+ students and their allies.
Formally known as Rainbow Pride and Coloring Outside the Lines, the Queer Student Association is, first and foremost, a “safe place for queer people,” according to club president Kyne Drystan. With a member base of more than 15 students, the QSA is in search of fresh faces.
“The Queer Student Association is here for the LGBTQ+ community,” says QSA secretary Krista Allred, in an email. “[It] is a place for acceptance and support when someone feels like they cannot find those elsewhere.”
Beyond events, volunteering and social gatherings, Drystan wants the club to spread awareness and tolerance to anyone willing to listen. Meetings, Drystan says, feel more like get-togethers with friends.
“When we had summer meetings, they would end at 3 o’clock, but most days they would continue until 4 or 5 [p.m.] just because we kept talking,” says Drystan.
According to Drystan, it gives queer students a way to be themselves, “unfiltered.” Allred reaffirms this, saying that QSA “feels like family.”
Drystan was looking for a group who would understand what he was going through. Being an openly transgender man, he was worried he wouldn’t find it at SLCC.
“The first club meeting I went to, before I was involved, was just a room full of white gay guys – and I just felt I didn’t belong, so I turned around and left,” says Drystan.
Drystan hopes that diversity will help avoid anyone feeling how he did at his first meeting. He wants a focus on recruiting diverse members this semester, but still welcomes all LGBTQ+ students and their allies at SLCC.
“We have gone through so many name changes, the constitution still references those old names, and that needs to change,” says Drystan. “We aren’t really sure what we have planned yet but, I really want to cement our club constitution this semester.”
He also said club members have plans to volunteer with Gender Revolution, a local LGBTQ+ awareness organization, and observe Transgender Day of Remembrance in November by holding a meeting on it. It memorializes those who have been murdered because of transphobia and pairs well with Drystan’s message of diversity this semester.
Drystan is happy to see a supportive staff and culture at SLCC. While he says transparency and access to information need to be improved, having a club landing page with all the needed documents to form a club on the SLCC home page would be welcomed. Drystan says it’s important that “the school allows us to be there.”
In his experience, that was not always the case.
“I’m pretty sure my wife and I were the only queer people in [our high] school,” says Drystan, noting harassment and bullying led to him dropping out. “We weren’t allowed to have a gay student association or club there.”
Stories like his are still common, Drystan says, emphasizing the importance of these clubs as a way to make connections and share experiences.
Club meetings at the Queer Student Association are held Mondays at 2 p.m. in the basement of the Taylorsville Redwood Campus in Den 1 or Den 2.