Club hits spot

Group offers safe space

“Having an openly gay indentified gender queer president on campus, our voice is definitely heard,” said Los Medanos College Associated Students President Gary Walker.

And that it is. Thanks to his and many others’ efforts LMC’s soon-to-be Student Union Building will officially house the college’s LGBTQ-friendly ALLIES club in a forum called the Q*SPOT.

The Q*SPOT began in founder and Adviser Jefferey Mitchell Matthews’ office in 1992 as a resource center for information on things like therapists, doctors and even Planned Parenthood. Matthews wanted to increase LGBT awareness on campus in a public, permanent place as there “wasn’t any visible gay presence at LMC” at that time.

The Q*SPOT may soon become even more permanent. Since Measure E was passed this year, the Contra Costa Community College District has $450 million to spend on improving their facilities. As a result LMC is planning a centralized Student Union on campus which will house student organizations, meetings and activities. What many students are excited about is having a reliable home for the ALLIES club.

“We’re there for each other emotionally, spiritually…” said Walker, President of ALLIES who will be passing the title on to Claudia Vasquez this year. “It keeps them connected to the college and makes them feel comfortable to stay here,” he added.

ALLIES held its first meeting of the fall term on Thursday, Oct. 9. During the meetings, members are encouraged to share their sexual and gender identities, of which the spectrum is much wider than one would think, and to educate those who might not be familiar.

For example, Walker identifies as gender queer, meaning he considers himself both man and woman and expresses himself with a combination of masculine and feminine traits. A few other members identify simply as queer, meaning they consider their sexuality to be so fluid they’d rather not subscribe to any one specific sexual or gender label.

Members of the club are encouraged to open up in this way as the Q*SPOT is meant to provide acceptance and support to anyone in a completely judgment-free zone.

“When we had our first meeting,” said Commissioner of Campus Events Diona Shelbourne, “there were a lot of people that came out that wouldn’t necessarily have brought themselves out.”

“Some of our students have said they finished their two-year college and transferred on because they had that support from Jeff and from Q*SPOT and from ALLIES,” said Walker.

Members of the club look forward to the Student Union Building as a permanent setting for the club, but founder Jeff Matthews isn’t entirely sure it will be the same.

Rather than housing an exclusively LGBTQ-centered group, Matthews believes LMC might take a “broader approach to diversity” by extending its reach to racial and ethnic minorities as well. But details are still foggy.

Faculty is in conversation with planners and builders, but an end date for construction is a “moving target,” said Walker. Until then, ALLIES will continue to make do with the resources at hand.

Also in the meantime, the club has already made an impact on the college and its future. Transgender speaker and activist Janet Mock was the featured speaker at a conference at LMC Sept. 13. During the conference, sponsored by LMCAS, she discussed many things including a need for gender-neutral restrooms on campus.

Soon after the conference, LMC President Bob Kratochvil agreed to include gender-neutral restrooms in future LMC buildings.

Until the Student Union is completed, the Q*SPOT can be found in Jeff Matthews’ office in Room CC1-117.