A gay-straight alliance in our Central Valley is a dream we are trying to make a reality. A dream that we hope one day will consume our entire nation and, ultimately; the world. This alliance isn’t just a desire, but a necessity in order to establish equality and freedom from intolerance and bigotry for all. Our central valley has numerous GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) clubs dispersed throughout it. The purpose of these clubs is to do just what it says; form a gay-straight alliance by extinguishing hate and homophobia by promoting love, acceptance, and equality for all. More so, GSA clubs benefit our youth that suffer from hate and homophobia each day, whether it is at school, at home or anywhere else for that matter. These clubs establish a group of youth both straight and gay that gather together not to change the world, but to influence each other’s lives. This is a sort of haven where our LGBT youth could meet, interact, share their stories, help each other and just be themselves. In a complex world it’s nice to interact with people that share the same struggles as you; this is why it is important to keep the GSA network alive and active in the Central Valley.
Recently, Robin McGehee stepped down as the administrator of the GSA network in the Central Valley. Our community had no choice but to stare at one another and ask, “What now?” Many of us were concerned that the position may not be filled, as we should be in an area like Fresno. Back in March proponents for marriage equality “met in the middle,” which landed them in Fresno; the center of the “Yes on 8” territory. They did this because they understood that our full attention should be given to conservative areas like Fresno that forget views will and do differ from their own. With Robin gone, how are we to ensure that our LGBT youth receive our full attention, in such a conservative area, during a time they may need it most? Not to worry, the position has been filled; and in a very timely matter.
I had the opportunity of interviewing Carloyn Laub (Executive Director of GSA out of San Francisco). Carolyn ensures us that they haven’t forgotten about our Central Valley and have hired on a new Administrator. The new program associate is Julia Valle. Julia is a native of the Central Valley. Julia grew up in Modesto and attended college at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Julia has had experience in student organizing, volunteering and leading clubs at the University of the Pacific; including the Pride Club and Feminist Club. Julia also worked on the No on 8 Campaign as well as the No on 4 Campaign, through organizing and volunteer work. Currently, Julia is involved with a program called Public Allies which is an AmeriCorps program. This program provides training and volunteer work which will give Julia some background knowledge of exactly what her job as the new Administrator will entail. Carolyn believes Julia is the right person for the job.
It is a concern for many of us that hiring another part-time administrator just may not be enough to tend for the entire Central Valley. Areas, like Fresno and Bakersfield are vastly growing in size and no matter how much we fight, they just aren’t changing their conservative ways. With this in mind, how could a single part-time employee adequately serve such a vast area? Answer is, they can’t. That’s why Carolyn has hired Julia as a nearly full time employee. Julia will work 80% of a full-time workload. That’s 30% more than our previous Administrator. Along with the addition of more work time, the GSA Network has also a hired a paid intern. Our new paid intern isn’t really new at all, he is Anthony Dietrich. Anthony already has experience with the GSA network. Anthony this past year served as an unpaid intern as he assisted Robin McGehee with organizing GSA activities. Anthony’s new role will mainly be covering the city of Fresno. With Anthony covering such a huge part of our valley, this will allow Julia more time to cover other, more conservative areas of the Central Valley. “As sad as we are to lose Robin, we are also really excited about all the new activity that we will be able to do in the Central Valley this coming year,” said Carolyn Laub. Carolyn is excited as we all should be; not only have they hired a new Administrator, but they have hired a second person to fulfill all of the needs of our LGBT youth.
Julia Valle is a resident of Modesto and will work out of Modesto. On the other hand, Anthony Dietrich is a resident of Fresno and will work out of Fresno, sharing an office with Equality California in the absence of the community center. It seems as if the GSA Network has everything under control and can’t wait to get started with their new acquisitions.