Meet Spectrum, Jacob's Gay-Straight Alliance

Meet Spectrum, Jacob's Gay-Straight Alliance

One club on campus has made a huge impact in my life more than any other - the Spectrum Gay-Straight Alliance. Everyone is welcome to join Spectrum, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. About 10% of students on campus are in Spectrum, making it one of the largest clubs on campus. I am on the Spectrum board and in this article, I’ll be introducing you to some of Spectrum’s other board members and co-heads to give you more insight into what the club does and the behind-the-scenes planning.

“The goal of the club is to be a community. We want to be a place that people can go to and find others to hang out with who they know are safe people to be around. The purpose of it is to create a home outside of home. Maybe this new home of yours will be more accepting, more tolerant, and a safer environment,” P, the co-head of Spectrum who studies in the Health focus area, said.

It can be daunting to go to the first meeting of a club, but the board members generally felt joyful and excited when they discovered Spectrum.

“I mostly felt very secure in my identity because it was the first time I was socially out somewhere. It was a nice experience where I could finally feel like myself,” F, one of the board members from Albania who studies in the Diversity focus area, said.

“I was really excited. Everyone was friends instantly without having to go through that awkward talking stage. I feel like queer culture is very much universal in some ways. It just felt very welcoming and very loving. I want it to have that feeling for the new students as well.” P said.

“I didn’t really come to terms with my queerness until I entered Jacobs, well into my second semester in the first year. Attending Spectrum events as, back then at least, a cis person was pretty enlightening. It was friends and lovely people getting together and learning about each other and just having a good time. It was a very positive and fun-filled environment when I first engaged with Spectrum,” Z, a board member studying in the Health focus area, said.

Spectrum has been a way for students to make new friends that will be accepting of them.

“Queer people have queer friends, it’s like magnets I swear. All of my friends are in Spectrum. I’ve met friends through Spectrum too, which is so exciting. I just immediately love every single one of them,” P said.

The only rule in Spectrum - and it is a very important rule- is that Spectrum members are always kept anonymous.

“Obviously, we do have social media and we do post but we never mention names or post faces. We publicly announce when everyone joins and all agree that you cannot out someone. You cannot mention someone’s sexuality or gender identity outside the comforts of the club. We cannot have anyone photographed or post photos of Spectrum events or people in Spectrum, either on private or public social media. Whenever we do anything that requires people sharing their stories or opinions, we always do that without any names just to protect the identity of the person. Obviously, if there’s any concerns that people have about anonymity, being in public, or about safety, we will take that 100% very seriously. I know firsthand what it’s like. Also, there are a lot of straight people in our club so nobody’s going to think you’re gay if you join. Nobody’s under that assumption,” P said.

“This campus is very international. Even if it wasn’t international, being queer in general is not as accepted as people think it is. Even in countries that have it legalised, that still does not mean that you are safe from hate. You’re statistically more likely to be a victim of a crime in any place you go to. Those people who are still closeted still deserve to have a place to go to, to feel queer, and to represent themselves. If you give the safety and option of being anonymous to people, then they can be free to express themselves without the worry and constant panic of being outed. You just lessen the weight just a tiny bit. Even that tiny bit is enough for us, as a club, to feel like we accomplished our goal,” P said.

“It’s also just the nicest thing you can do for queer people who are still figuring out their identity to give them their own time and space before they’re openly able to say. It’s blanket protection over anyone who may need it for any reason,” U said. U is a CBT major from Pakistan.

The Spectrum board members and co-heads were determined to take on leadership positions within Spectrum after the previous board graduated in order to continue building this community that had supported them throughout their time at Jacobs.

“I applied for the Spectrum board for the same reason that I needed Spectrum when I first came to Jacobs. I needed a safe environment and I love being able to contribute to giving other students the same feeling I had,” F said.

“When the applications were open, I really wanted to be a part of it. I want to ease queer people’s pain. That pain is shared and it takes a community to step up together and be each other’s rock because we’re not going to get that support anywhere else except from queer people. Saying that is very sad. We obviously rely on the allies but you also need queer people around you to share your experience,” P said.

The Spectrum board has weekly meetings to organise events on campus and ensure the club is running smoothly.

“The Spectrum board organises events for the Spectrum club. They moderate the Instagram account and Whatsapp group chat and all of that. They also try to be advocates for queer people on campus in any way they can. For example, the members who are on the CAC always try to be advocates. We try to be advocates in our everyday life as much as we can safely. As a club, we provide support and we can direct you to the proper people to report things and help out in any way, shape, or form we can,” P said.

“Essentially, the board is a group of friends that have bonded over the past year or few years and are now together. We’re technically supposed to be well-organised but the friendships still come through. Generally, it’s a really fun time,” Z said.

Spectrum has hosted many events this year, including a quiz night, making art outdoors, movie nights, and more.

“I do like the movie nights that we put on. I only ever really watch movies within the company of others so it’s a really good excuse to watch a movie related to an LGBTQ+ topic. If it’s historical then I learn more. If it’s just for fun, then it’s entertaining. So I’ll do it!” Z said.

“Our upcoming event is on April 23rd and it is our Party in the GSA. It’s a ToS night and it’s not just a ToS night for us, it’s a ToS night for everyone. It’s Spectrum’s present to Jacobs. Everyone is free to come as long as they are respectful and supportive. Have fun and swing by! Beyond that, we have some ideas for future events like game nights, D&D nights, book clubs, and other fun queer things,” U said.

Though you may be nervous to join Spectrum or might not be sure if it’s for you, the Spectrum board encourages everyone to try it out.

“Spectrum is for everyone of all walks of life. The reason it was created in the first place is to have people come together. Being queer is about loving who you want to love and loving yourself enough to express how you feel and identify. If you’re queer, we will do our best to be as protective as possible. You don’t have to be scared. You can take as much time as you need to be ready. Even if you know you’re safe and anonymous, it still takes a bit of time to really accept that within yourself to be able to share that with others. That’s why if you want to just come, we don’t ever require anyone to label themselves. If you just want to come and watch, do that. If you just want to reach out to one person in the club and maybe have a conversation with them, please do that. If you just want to watch a movie and not talk to anyone, you’re more than welcome to. In the end, it’s just a community that we’re trying to build and that’s what this whole club is about. So just join! We’re going to have a lot of fun events in the future,” P said.



Meet Spectrum, Jacob's Gay-Straight Alliance