By: Jade Jetjomlong
Established in Fall 2013, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning & Allies (LGBTQ) student run organization at John Jay was ready to raise the bar on Safe Zone Advocacy in the college for any who have ever felt out of place or uncomfortable in their own skin or environment.
Sanaly Santiago, a sophomore at John Jay, feels that the creation of an LGBTQ club at John Jay “is a great club to bring to the campus,” and that “there are a lot of students I know who still aren’t confident in their identity and live behind a fake one.”
This years’ team of executives for LGBTQ & Allies includes founding President Jillian Shartrand and Vice President Charlene Javier, alongside new executives Treasurer Michael Romano and Secretary Dianna Serrano.
Current Secretary and John Jay Senior, Dianna Serrano, stated she wanted to become an executive because she saw the old executive team struggling and really wanted to help give other John Jay students a similar experience to her own; a place where she immediately felt relaxed and comfortable.
The organization means being able “to include anyone who identifies in this spectrum in any way and allies, allies are very much emphasized since they’re one of our biggest advocates,” said Serrano.
Upon coming to John Jay College as a transfer, Jillian Shartrand, President of LGBTQ & Allies, noticed the former social identity and equality club, known as Spectrum, was inactive and outdated.
Together, with friends Charlene Javier, and Rigoberto Urqullo, former Secretary, they became the founders and first leaders of the new LGBTQ & Allies, with the mission to unite people of all identities, genders, and sexualities.
The club has recruited over 80 current members in the past year and plans on getting more. LGBTQ & Allies is hosting events to encourage the philosophy of everyone having somewhere to go and feel comfortable to be themselves.
Part of this semester’s plans is to host a “Speak Out” event in October, in order to promote speaking out for your own identity. The event will include John Jay students participating in any kind of verbal art, ranging from singers, to rappers, to spoken word artists.
The organization also plans to host a “Coming Out Week” in November “where gay and lesbian identified athletes will come in to speak and everyone can see people of high profiles who are proud of who they are and can still do what they love and be out there” said Serrano.
LGBTQ & Allies hasn’t forgotten John Jay’s motto, “Advocates for Justice”, either. The club plans on hosting events to cover gender and sexuality as social justice issues, such as gender and sexual assault prevention, and how identification increasingly is becoming a social issue.
LGBTQ & Allies is also an advocate for the JJay #Nolabels campaign, which seeks to end the stigmatizing of individuals.
Serrano, in regards to those who hide their identities and how the LGBTQ & Allies club approaches them, stated, “In no way we’re trying to push any one to come out or publicize who they are, all we want is to create a safe space for them to at least an hour come and enjoy the company and seeing what we’re about and find comfort in being with people they really can identify with.”
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning club at John Jay is here to modernize the safe zone for social identity and equality on campus, to “help people feel more safe in their own skin especially being in a college where you don’t know each other initially,” said Serrano.
John Jay students, such as Santiago, agree with Serrano. “I think this club will help educate the student body as a whole and make the school a giant safe zone,” said Santiago.