Gay Straight Alliance has big plans

OCCC’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) has been through many name changes in the past 11 years said Club President Chris Reece, and the club is doing it again.

Reece said, the GSA is about to make yet another name change.

The campus club was originally formed in Sept. 3, 2002, under the name Gay Alliance & Friends. Shortly after, on Dec. 19, 2003, the name changed to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance (GALA), then, to GSA in 2007.

At a spring 2013 GSA meeting, the club approved a proposal to change the name to LIFE — Leading Individuals for Equality — effective next spring, he said. Reece said the club will continue to use GSA until then.

“The reason behind the change was to brand the GSA, getting the attention of potential new members and reach lesbian, gay, bi, transgendered or questioning students as well as the heterosexual community.”

Reece said he joined GSA because he wanted to make a difference.

“There is a lot of room for growth and change within the OCCC campus,” he said. “We want to spread awareness, acceptance and love.”

The mission statement of LIFE is to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for LGBTQ students and provide tools necessary to educate all students on various LGBTQ subjects, Reece said.

“We are a non-judgmental group of students who just want to fit in, educate others, make connections and pursue an education.”

As of last semester, Reece said, there were 20 active members with five officers and two faculty sponsors — Academic Adviser Tennent Emmons in Academic Advising and Learning Support Specialist Mary Turner.

Reece said all students should consider joining a club. “You learn a lot while being a part of a club,” he said.

“You learn how to interact with different variations of people from all walks of life.”

He said everyone is welcome to join LIFE. Club Vice President Sierra Biagas said there are many different ways to join a club at OCCC.

“The most effective way to join is to go in person by attending a meeting,” she said. “They normally have sign-in sheets where you put down your name and email address.”

Reece said sign-up sheets will be at their “Welcome to LIFE” meeting at 12:30 p.m.Tuesday, Sept. 3. In addition, he said, look for GSA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 28 and 29 at the Club and Organization Fair.

The club has several events already planned for the fall semester he said.

“Events planned for the fall are participation in the HIV/AIDS walk Sept. 22; National Coming Out Day Oct. 4; and LGBTQ month will be in October.”

Reece said he is also looking forward to next spring.

“I am happy to announce that OCCC is looking to host the 3rd annual LGBTQ college summit March 1, 2014.

For more information about the GSA, contact Emmons at or Turner at

Leave comment