“I’m a busy guy,” laughs sophomore Aidan Willers, as he finishes writing out his schedule for the week.
In between swim practice and meets, and in the thick of rigorous classes required for nursing majors, Willers dedicates his time and efforts to FUSION, Linfield’s Gay/Straight Alliance Club.
Named president of FUSION this year, Willers strives to help educate and address matters surrounding sexuality—a matter that has greatly affected him personally.
“I have always advocated, and I will always continue to advocate for anti-bullying policies,” Willers said.
Once a high scholar at a private Jesuit High School, Willers is familiar with the conflicts and rifts that can exist between the gay and straight communities.
“It is something that is very close to my heart, being a victim of bullying,” Willers said.
In addition to the bullying that took place there, his high school had no GSA, or any other opportunities to open up conversation about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community—a discouraging prospect to someone struggling to come out for the first time.
“I had half my foot in the closet still,” Willers said.
The obstacles, however, only inspired Willers to address the rumors surrounding his sexual orientation.
Emboldened, Willers took the conversation to Facebook and officially came out.
“It was very self empowering,” Willers said.
With a newfound inspiration to engage in healthy discussion, Willers began a new chapter of his life at Linfield.
“The first day of freshman year I was like, ‘where is GSA and when can I join?’” Willers said.
Now, Willers is president of FUSION—which has already seen significant changes since his involvement.
“We have more members this year than we have in the past,” FUSION’s Community Liaison, Jeremy Odden, said. “I am thrilled with Aidan as president this year. He has taken the club by the horns and really gotten us together, motivated and enthusiastic.”
Willers and fellow members have brought this enthusiasm outside of meetings and onto campus. In April, FUSION brought drag queen Shane, from RuPaul’s Drag Race, to perform and talk about his life experiences in Melrose’s Ice Auditorium for Divas for Diversity. Willers MC’d the event.
On Oct. 1, FUSION celebrated National Coming Out Day around campus—providing education about the nationally observed day, bracelets, as well as a symbolic door frame for people of any sexual orientation to walk through.
“The main point that people should take away from the events is tolerance,” Willers said. “Linfield is such a small community that one incident of intolerance can really be detrimental to the community as a whole.”
Although in the middle of swim season and heavy workloads for his nursing major, Willers continues to plan more events with fellow members of FUSION.
“It’s certainly a lot to juggle, I’m not going to deny it. It takes a lot of organization and perseverance ” Willers said. “But it allows me to leave my mark, and it makes me proud to attend this school.”
Chrissy Shane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org