GSA Highlights Ally Week with Poster
Ally Week, a period that emphasizes solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, took place last week, from September 23 to 27.
Ally Week, a period that emphasizes solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, took place last week, from September 23 to 27. Because Ally Week occurred earlier this year, the Gender Student Alliance (GSA) club on campus was unable to plan a formal event to commemorate the occasion. However, Alexandra Stach ’20, “got the opportunity to build the [Ally Week] board because [she] had access to wood…[and] supplies from working in the musical.” She created a poster that read “I Am An Ally,” and students signed the poster during meal times in the Irwin Dining Hall.
For Stach, Ally Week is “a chance to bring recognition to allies… It’s just a way to celebrate [them] and… bring attention to the LGBTQ+ community.” Kylan Tatum ’21 said that Ally Week “is about teaching people about the importance of being an ally and how to be a good [one].” He added, “There are people who want to be allies but don’t exactly know how. Many people don’t fully understand the importance of allies in changing heteronormative culture.” Performing Arts Master Matthew Campbell, the faculty advisor of the GSA, said that being an ally means “to be there...to listen and to support,” explaining that “an ally is not 100 percent exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community—it is for all of us; it is for everybody, and the mindset of putting [oneself] as an ally helps [one] to grow as a human, as a person, and helps us grow as a community”.
For Tatum, being an ally specifically means not only supporting the LGBTQ+ community but also actively “challenging intentional or unintentional microaggressions to promote change.”
Similarly, Chelsea Wang ’21 believes that at Lawrenceville, students can serve as allies by “being conscious of … how their language impacts LGBTQ+ kids and whether their language is inclusive,” noting that “the most important thing is calling people out when there are people saying homophobic things, even if their intention isn’t bad.”
After seeing the Ally Week board filled with signatures in the span of days, Wang said, “It [made] me realize that there are a lot more silent supporters of LGBTQ+ kids on campus than I had realized.”
Reflecting on the significance of the poster, Devan Morey ’22 said, “I feel that by doing the physical act of signing your name, it really solidifies your commitment to [being an ally]—by holding yourself and others accountable to support the LGBTQ+ community in any way possible.”
On the question of whether being a faculty member of the LGBTQ+ community at Lawrenceville has changed his experience at the School, Campbell said, “Since I joined the faculty in 2008, I have felt enormous support. There was never a time that I was aware of when there was an issue that was an anti-LGBTQ+ thing…There has never been an instance where I felt excluded or [like] an outsider.”
On her experiences as a LGBTQ+ student on campus, Wang said, “Fortunately, it's more rare to encounter more overt homophobia.” However, she noted that a lot of homophobia on campus is “relatively subtle.”
Tatum said that he “only feel[s] supported because [he’s] learned to spend time with people who support [him].”
“However, being in a Circle House where… it is common culture to use ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘bad’ and where any sort of non-heterosexual activity comes with an expression of disgust, it can be difficult sometimes,” he said.