Pacific University student Jaye Adams wants to make a difference.
Adams, who just wrapped up his junior year at Pacific, is the co-founder of Spectrum Outreach, an LGBTQ social and support group that meets on Pacific University's campus each month. Open to allies and community members across western Washington County, Adams said across the area, people struggle to find a place to belong.
"We all felt alienated and we knew who other LGBTQ members were, but none of us have a chance to get together," Adams said. "We thought it would be nice to have that sense of community. We talked theoretically about a hangout time and decided to do an educational social space."
Martha Rampton, a history professor at the university who is retiring this year, served as the director for the university's Center for Gender Equity. She said the organization plays an important role on Pacific's campus.
"It is important because LGBTQ people need a place to meet and exchange feelings, experiences, insights, etc. with others who have shared those things," Rampton said. "Western Washington County has no social/support group like this."
Scheduled once a month, Spectrum Outreach meetings are open to people of all ages, from middle schoolers to senior citizens, Adams said.
Spectrum Outreach meetings offer a space to catch up and relax. Short presentations on different relevant issues are followed by short discussions. Afterwards, the space is open for socialization, and snacks are provided. At its last meeting of the school year, the group spoke about this year's past Metropolitan Museum of Art gala.
"We hung out for an hour just chatting," Adams said. "I appreciate the social gathering times like that. We always start the meeting introducing ourselves, with our names, pronouns and identifiers. I always introduce myself as queer and trans, so people know where I come from when I speak. It is no pressure for anyone else. You can even share a fun fact about yourself."
Spectrum Outreach formed last year, after the university's LGBTQ club on campus, Rainbow Coalition, was having less and less presence among students, Adams said. Adams and other students looked for a space to put on LGBTQ-based educational programming. Adams said he wanted a space where he and others could spend time away from the rush of classes, homework and deadlines.
Adams has overseen several events at Pacific to help students understand their identity, Rampton said.
"(Adams) is creative, cooperative, has great ideas and follows through with them," Rampton said. "He also has a deep understanding of the politics and social dimensions of transgender issues."
Adams heads most of the lectures at Spectrum Outreach, and as the group heads into the future, he said he would like to see more people attend outside the university and welcome guest lecturers.
"If you don't know a lot about the queer community and you want a gentle start to it," Adams said. "You can meet real people who are willing to have a discussion about it and we always have educational aspects. It is meant to be a resource to people who want to know more."
By Janae Easlon
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune971-762-1166
Follow Janae at @Janae_Easlon
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