Spectrum is a student-run club that aims to make LGBT+ students feel more welcome at Thacher, as well as educate the Thacher community on LGBT issues. Led by Emma Freedman ’17, Max Damon ’17, and Natalie Osuna ’17, Spectrum is excited to be an active presence on campus this year.
What are your goals for Spectrum this year?
Natalie: One of our main goals is to be inclusive of both allies and the smaller affinity groups of LGBT students. We want to build a strong community within those who are LGBT or questioning at Thacher, but at the same time, we still want to have some events for the rest of the school.
Max: One thing that we noticed last year is that it was awesome to build a very strong, confidential group of kids who felt comfortable sharing and interacting with each other. To expand upon that this year, we want to open the group to the entire community. We’re going to have discussions to answer any questions, and we’re going to try and educate the community as a whole.
Emma: Additionally, although we want to emphasize a focus on the allies, we also have further goals for the affinity group. Last year, the affinity group was in its beginning stages, so it was a lot of discussions, but we’re interested in creating a group where we just hang out, have fun and do lots of activities. One of my personal goals within Spectrum is to leave an impact on the school that is visible outside of just going to a meeting. We want new students and visitors to know that there is a presence on campus.
What events does Spectrum have planned for the upcoming year?
Emma: We’re planning events for both Day of Silence and National Coming Out Day. We’ll probably do activities on both of those days for the affinity group and allies because they’re important to the community. We will also show documentaries and movies, as well as hold discussions with the allies and our group.
Natalie: I know for Day of Silence we want to have a tie-dying session for the whole school, and then instead of being silent for the entire day, we all could wear tie-dye to show our support.
What does a typical Spectrum meeting look like?
Max: There are quite a few people now, so, it’s us in a classroom. It’s just a lot of socializing for the most part. Everyone feels comfortable now in this space we’ve created, where it’s just people who are LGBT or questioning. We’ve gone through similar experiences, similar struggles, and can ask each other questions.
Emma: Sometimes we have pride flags up over the door or various rainbow decorations. And, recently, we’ve been hanging up a Community Guidelines sheet that we developed as a group to remind everyone that it’s a positive and confidential space.
Why did you decide to join Spectrum?
Max: I’ve been a part of Spectrum since the beginning of my freshman year, but it didn’t feel like a real club then. There wasn’t any confidential space, and there wasn’t anyone who I felt I could talk to about anything. Last year, Hayden Howard, Peter Ammons, and Elsabet Jones were awesome Spectrum heads. They started the confidential meetings and helped build the confidential group. They made it feel like a very comfortable space to come together in and talk about what it’s like at Thacher and in the outside world. They really brought the club together, and that made me want to be a head. They created something awesome and I want to continue their work for the rest of the community.
Emma: I was a new sophomore, and back then Spectrum still wasn’t very serious. I came to campus and started identifying as gay, but I felt super uncomfortable at Thacher because I didn’t realize that anyone was gay here, and I just didn’t see any evidence of it. I didn’t even know that Spectrum existed, until a few months after being at Thacher. And then, once Hayden, Elsie, and Peter made it a serious club, I looked forward to being a head because it’s super important to me to help freshmen avoid going through that experience.
How can the Thacher community become a better environment for LGBT students?
Natalie: The thing with Thacher is that most, if not all, of the student body and faculty, are pretty accepting. So, for Spectrum, the goal is not to create a big political change at all, that’s already been done. What we’re trying to do is be super supportive of kids who are questioning, and the LGBT community in general.
Emma: One of the things that we’ve been doing that I started last year is handing out pride pins, for people to put on their backpacks. The reason I did that is that if I had seen a pride button on someone’s backpack when I had started coming to Thacher, I would have realized that people are accepting. I think the visibility that we’ve developed is awesome. We also recently just talked to Ms. McMahon about how a lot of students may come to Thacher without being familiar with the LGBT community, but just being unfamiliar is not the same as being hostile or not accepting. It’s important to us to reach out to our allies and educate everyone.
Max: I know that there are a lot of allies at Thacher who have a lot of questions but are too nervous to ask them because they’re afraid of being offensive or being labeled as homophobic and- bigoted. I feel like more discussions and answering questions will be useful.