LGBT organizations focus on outreach


Ellen Bombela/Iowa State Daily

LGBTA Alliance members and leaders Katie Smith, president, and Ben Spick, education and outreach chair, pose for a photo. The LGBTAA had a successful ice cream social with the LGBTSS community earlier in the year.

Ellen Bombela

When people think about LGBT groups on campus, their minds probably automatically think about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services.

This is because the LGBTSS is, in theory, the big umbrella over seven LGBT organizations. One of those organizations is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance.

The LGBTA Alliance started out as The Gay Liberation Front in 1971 and only focused on gay men, which was prominent in the gay community at that time. Since then, it has gone through several name changes and purposes.

“We provide education, outreach and a community for LGBT members and other allies to meet on Iowa State’s campus,” said Katie Smith, president of the LGBTA Alliance. “We also have community members from Ames come, and high school students. It’s kind of open to everybody.”

While the organization is welcoming to everyone, there are approximately 20 to 30 members paying dues, including students, faculty and staff. Some of the benefits of being paid members include discounts on events, partaking in the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference each year and discounts on T-shirts. 

The LGBTA Alliance works with the LGBTSS for a variety of different reasons.

“We look toward the Student Services Center for guidance, resources, etc.,” Smith said.

One of the ways that the LGBTA Alliance gets to collaborate with LGBTSS and the six other LGBT-focused organizations under LGBTSS, along with some other groups and individuals along the way, is through the Pride Summit.

“Basically, the leaders and general assembly members of each organization get together like once, maybe twice a month, and share ideas of what they have planned coming up, and kind of give that opportunity for networking,” said Smith, who will be handing over her position as president to vice president Alex Peters, sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design.

One of the recent events the organizations planned that was successful was an ice cream social.

“We had an ice cream social at the beginning of the fall semester, where we had over 500 students attend,” Smith said. “That was because we finally had that connection where we can all sit down at a round table and kind of discuss what we wanted to do for that and really get all of the leaders’ opinions and experience.”

As president, Smith has various responsibilities.

“As president, I do a lot of the administrative work,” Smith said. “I run our cabinet meetings each week, and this semester, I ran a lot of our social media. The past few weeks, I have been working on training our new president for next semester.”

Along with having a president, the organization also has a variety of different officers, one of whom is Ben Spick, senior in anthropology.

“I am education and outreach chair,” Spick said. “I do a lot of communication between our organization and LGBTSS and our other student organizations, and kind of helping to facilitate some of those interactions. Also, we often times have students ask if they can come to our events and meetings, so I usually end up taking care of those types of conversations as well.”

When asked why he is a part of the LGBTA Alliance, there was no question in Spick’s mind.

“Because I didn’t have that,” Spick said. “I want to be able to make sure that other people, when they come to Iowa State, they have some sort of space like this. I didn’t have a space like this. I didn’t know how or where to look, so now that I have found this space, I want to help make us more visible, be there for the people that do find us and be able to give my time and my talents to supporting this community.”