GLOW stands for "Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever." GLOW Discussion Group is an activity offered at Lancaster since 2007. It is a safe space where people can discuss issues pertaining to GLOWiness and basically have an awesome time. These discussion range from GLOW in the media, to coming out to parents, to raising awareness.
GLOW is not just for LGBT people; it is for also for allies and anyone who wants to listen, learn, and discuss. It is a space to speak openly and it is an actual safe space, where "All questions are welcome, but not all statements are." This line (originally created by Gabe Murchison) opened every GLOW in LAN.08.1, 08.2, 09.1, 09.2, 10.1, and 10.2. It is followed by introductions, which are followed by the actual discussion period.
The GLOW activity was first offered during LAN.07.1 under the title "LGBT Awareness." It was created by RA Casey Reed and RA Sean Rist. Because of the name, many CTYers were under the impression that it would be a lecture, as opposed to its actual discussion format. So, attendees of the first activity decided upon the name GLOW as a more fitting name. Stephen Rosen initially suggested the name, after the new name of his home GSA. "GLOW" was seen as friendlier, more inviting, all-inclusive, and, after all, who doesn't love things that glow? By the second activity period it was offered, GLOW's popularity had tripled and its awesomeness spread through the site by word of mouth.
The next summer, both Casey (now SRA of North Ben) and Sean returned, and GLOW continued, with a new 3rd RA, Shae Fitzgerald. During LAN.08.1, it was decided that GLOW should be offered on two specific days a week, designated as Tuesday and Thursday. The success of GLOW has been incredible. At the first meeting there were only about eight people signed up, but in LAN.08.2, there were so many signed up one day (42!) that the activity was moved from its usual location in Thomas Lounges to the larger Schnader Lounge (but the next activity period was back in Thomas, because the Thomas lounges are home to GLOW!)
GLOW became so popular, that even the staff fell in love with it. So many RA's wanted a chance to attend GLOW that during LAN.08.2, Shae and Sean weren't allowed to attend every meeting so as to give the other RA's a turn.
In 2009, GLOW continued to grow in size and popularity, becoming arguably the most popular activity (after AI). Although Sean and Casey did not return, Shae continued to lead it and many other staff members joined in as well. The last GLOW meeting of second session had 80 students signed up for it. At the end, GLOWers got sent home with a definitive list of LGBT literature, movies, TV shows, websites etc., compiled by Shae (thanks Shae!).
In 2010, GLOW followed the previous year's success and further grew. The number of students signed up became so large, over 170 on the last meeting of session two, that it had to be moved from its regular location in Thomas Lounge, first to Shnader Lounge, and then to the area behind the Ware House building (the area near Weis, a kind of alcove). Just like the previous year, GLOWers were rewarded with Shae's (and others') fabulous LBGT abridged handout.
In 2011, a number of changes were made to GLOW by the site administration due to concerns that GLOW was becoming a type of therapy session, as well as the fact that some attendees were feeling pressured to "come out." Most GLOW attendees felt uncomfortable with GLOW due to the presence of academic counselors, the removal of introductions, and the fact that on several occasions, the group was split up, making for less productive and even occasionally offensive discussion. Though First Sessioners cared very strongly about GLOW, and a number of people (including The Father, Deena) talked to the administration about why they believe GLOW was becoming unsafe, Session One’s GLOW was overall very unhelpful and turned off a lot of allies who were interested in discussion. At one point, Site Director Debbie threatened to take GLOW away. Additionally, there was no LBGT handout this year, but by joining GLOW's facebook group, students can access GLOWey movie, book, music, and resource lists.
Unfortunately, during Second Session, one of the groups that was separated was composed of GLOW attendees who were so uncomfortable with the changes that, either due to anger or a belief that they could reverse the changes, they began harassing staff members of their group in attempts to preserve the safe, welcoming space that GLOW used to be. Again, administrators considered GLOW for cancellation. The Holder of the Duck, Dennis Cowan, represented the interests of the GLOW attendees in negotiating with the site director over the fate of the discussion group. Ultimately, a mutual agreement between Dennis, the campers and the administration prevented GLOW from being canceled, thereby ensuring that GLOW continues. GLOW is no longer run by Shae, or any RA for that matter, but a number of TAs are now involved and have made it clear that it is the student’s responsibility that GLOW continue to be a safe, helpful place for students. Introductions have been returned in a slightly different format, the group is not split up, and GLOW is once more a safe space for staff. In the future, all CTYers will hopefully feel safe there again, but the comfort and acceptance of all is no longer present at GLOW.
During LAN.08.2, GLOW decided to hold their version of a Pride Day. The idea transformed into CTY Loves a day to promote diversity and acceptance regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. Posters were made during a GLOW activity, and many could be spotted walking around that Saturday adorned with rainbows or LGBT symbols. One of the most memorable had to be RA Dermot Curtin's large Russian Orthodox crucifix dangling off of his lanyard.
During a GLOW meeting in LAN.08.1, Rachel Larrowe had mentioned how every ten days, her school's GSA would have cupcakes. Some GLOWers took to this idea, and thought that GLOW should also have cupcakes. This did not happen first session, but a few GLOWers double-sessioned. One of these GLOWers made it her mission to have cupcakes and a giant group hug on the last day of second session's GLOW. Julie Leghorn pestered RA's Shae and Sean for cupcakes at every meeting 2nd session and brought it up in discussion when it seemed fit. And, at that last 2nd session GLOW activity, there were cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles (along with other treats) and a giant group hug (treats thanks to the Paleobiology TA Melanie, a regular at GLOW). In 09.1, Melanie provided cupcakes again, despite the presence of approximately sixty bajillion students (or 50), because she promised, and because she is fantastic.
During LAN.11.1, our lowest attendee count was 18 kids. Over a dozen of them indicated that they were attending only "to see how bad things had gotten." Next session, Stu introduced the first GLOW by stating that "first session really liked the changes." In LAN.11.2, Debbie and Stu met with a group of students and staff to discuss what was happening. After Debbie threatened to cancel GLOW, Stu said that no staff members were willing to help run it, which prompted several staff members to volunteer to help with GLOW. It is also regrettably noted that several RAs were banned from the activity prior to that meeting, and though they cared very strongly about the happiness of their CTYers, they were entirely uninvolved with the situation.
At LAN 15.2, Ele Grant had the idea to bring back the pride parade, and with help from Rosemary Wonnell, Hannah Hildebolt, and the general Lancaster alphabet soup community, it became a reality once again. A flag-making activity was held on second Friday for everyone interested to make flags for their pride (or, in one bisexual's case, a bi-pride-covered paper bag to cover their head in case of pictures). The parade took place between dinner and study hall on third Monday (Love Tape Day) and was a success, with roughly 40 campers decked out in all colors of the rainbow rallying to march around the quad shouting chants such as the following:
-Things are so gay! But they could be gayer!
-CTY has a trans butt! CTY we love you! Forevermore, forevermore, CTY we love you!
-G is for gender, that's good enough for me! G is for gender, that's good enough for me! G is for gender, that's good enough for me, oh, gender gender sexuality!
-She's beauty! She's grace! She's really really ace!