Building an Alliance

BY ERIN POWERS // DEC. 5, 2011 //

The quote on the top of the flyer read, “Life is more than the sum of its parts.” Those interested to learn more made their way to the Student Center, where a new student group hosted a showing last month of the 2005 movie “Transamerica.”

The Gay, Straight Alliance, or GSA, has returned to Curry this semester after years of inactivity. The group showed “Transamerica,” a comedic yet touching film that explores gender dysphoria, as part of the national Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 12-20, while also hosting a discussion about the movie’s various themes.

In search of a social support group, Alexander Koch decided to create his own and led others in the resurrection of Curry's Gay, Straight Alliance. // PHOTO BY ERIN POWERS

Freshman Alexander Koch is the force behind GSA’s resurrection on campus. He said he was inspired to restart the student club after flipping through Curry’s Student Handbook, which listed GSA as an active student group. He sought out more information from Student Activities, but learned that the listing was a mistake and that the club had long been dormant.

He and some friends quickly changed that.

Lynn Zlotkowski, the college’s academic success coordinator, and Robert Mack, manager of the Academic Advising office, are both advisors to GSA and help the students figure out logistical planning for events and community outreach. According to Zlotkowski and Koch, the GSA’s main purpose is to serve as a safe and comforting environment where students—regardless of their sexuality—can talk and listen without being judged in any way. The group plans to hold various events throughout the year, including a holiday party before the semester break, in an effort to bring students together and allow diversity to flourish on campus.

“It’s an opportunity to break down some stereotypes and give students a chance to meet people that are going through the same things as them,” said Zlotkowski, who’s in her first semester at Curry. “Or just the opposite; they can meet people who are going through things that they might not understand at all.”

Koch, who is gay, lived in Germany his whole life until he decided to pursue his college education in the U.S. He said he has found the Curry community to be kind-hearted overall. It’s something of a departure from his former life overseas.

“Germany has many gay rights and hate crime laws, but there are not many supporting organizations, and those that exist are more of a political nature and are not aimed at teenagers and young adults,” Koch said, adding that he was looking forward to attending college in the United States, where there are many support groups for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

One thing that is significant about Curry’s chapter of GSA is that it is not just for students who are gay or bisexual; straight students are also members. As of press time, GSA had about 12 members, according to Koch, and about a quarter of them are straight, he said. Starting Thursday, Feb. 2, the group will meet biweekly in the Student Center’s Small Meeting Room from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

“Curry has a long way to go as far as accepting the LGBT community,” said Zlotkowski, “but the revival of GSA is certainly a good first step.”

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