The first event from the Safe Space Committee took place on Tuesday, January 28. The session was led by Hunter Kirschner, who is the program support assistant for LGBTQ students.
The event, which was titled “LGBTQ+ Vocabulary,” was put on to help the Keene State College community learn more about the vast vocabulary that comes along with the LGBTQ community. There were about seven people present at the event.
The night started out with a name game where each participant had to share where they got their name from and the story of their name. This was a great way for everybody in the session to get to know one another on a more personal level.
The reason that this game was played, according to Kirschner, is that naming yourself can be challenging at times, especially if you are still trying to find your identity. A name can mean more than just a literal name.
Kirschner leads the monthly event as LGBTQ issues impact his life in a fundamental way. “My relationship to gender growing [up] was really complicated and painful,” Kirshner explained. “It wasn’t [a better relationship] until I had the opportunity to think about gender in different ways and more expansive ways, that gender wasn’t just this either-or choice that people are offered.”
Kirschner went on to explain how personal these events really are to him. In fact, he wishes that he had these events when he needed them most in his life. “It’s personal and it helps make sense of my life, and I want to share that with other people. I wish I had a glimmer of knowledge when I really needed it,” Kirschner said.
The next game at the event was a matching game. In this game, participants had to match up various LGBTQ words to their definitions. This was to see how much the participants knew about LGBTQ vocabulary. This was also a great learning opportunity for the words that people did not know much about, and Kirschner took the time during the session to talk to people about the definitions that they did not know.
Jayme Hines, a co-presenter and KSC faculty member, explained that these events are important as they allow the Keene State community to come together.
“Safe Space activities are important because they provide a space for the KSC community to come together to question and learn,” explained Hines. “Safe Space training, workshops and mini-sessions help to support individuals as they seek out an understanding of sexual and gender diversity.”
Kirschner argues that it is his role as an educator to complicate narratives and ideas. “We are offered flat, black and white versions of reality,” he said. Kirschner hopes that the events open people’s eyes to the diverse world that is out there.
Hines explained that learning about the LGBTQ community is important as everyone at Keene State College is part of a community. “The KSC community is diverse in a variety of ways,” Hines explained. “The LGBTQ+ community is part of the larger KSC community and, as a human, it is important to get to know the community they live in.”
After the games, Kirschner went on to explain to the group the differences between sex and gender, which are important to understand when talking about this community. After that discussion, Kirshcner transitioned into talking about personal identity.
“It’s amazing,” Kirscher said, “new identities are being created every day online.”
If you are looking for any resources to learn about the LGBTQ community, the Office of Multicultural Student Support is a great place to go. Safe Space sessions are also a great way to learn and to get to know the community around you.
If you are interested in attending a Safe Space session, the next event is on Tuesday, February 18, titled “Coming Out.”
This particular event is going to discuss the process of coming out and learn some dos and don’ts when supporting someone’s coming out process.
If you have any questions regarding Safe Space sessions or any questions regarding the LGBTQ community, you can contact Kirschner at Hunter.Kirschner@keene.edu.
Lucas Dominick contributed to this article
Connor Crawford can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org