On the use of the term ‘queer’

Hello, the Network has been contacted regarding the use of the word queer in a few of our social media posts because of the negative connotations it can carry, its problematic history, and the fact that some non-LGBT+ also use it to mean sexually subversive. As one of the Campaigns Coordinators, and the person who was responsible for the tweets in question, I’d like to make some clarifications, and apologize for any offense that may have been caused.

 

The use of the word in recent posts, which is what the concerns were referring to, were to do with Stockholm Pride (with reference to a tent that was named “Queers of Faith”) and about a course that I attended earlier this summer on gender and sexuality rights and activism worldwide. Here, the word was specifically being used to cater to an international audience, because the acronym LGBT+ does not translate into multiple languages. While queer is also an English word and one that definitely carries very specific and potentially distressing baggage in the West, it has been used as an emancipator term in other countries that are trying to talk to a global LGBT+ movement without losing touch of their own contexts. It is more easily transferable without having to rearrange the entire acronym, and it speaks to cultures, such as my own, where LGBT+ identities are not understood in the same vein as in the UK. in order to do justice to these very specific events, I felt it would have been unfair to relabel the terminology they were using.

 

Further, there are those in the Network and in the LGBT+ community more widely even in the UK who feel the term more accurately represents their identity and that is not something that should be ignored either. We’ll be discussing why some people feel that “queer” is a term integral to their identity, whilst others see it as offensive, in a podcast at the start of the academic year.

 

In the meantime, if anyone comes across the term in future posts (and in any posts that might have been left behind), please be mindful of the intersectional and international make-up of the Network, and that the usage of the term reflects that. “Queer” can be offensive in some contexts, and we are very much aware of that, but in the context of the Network, it is never meant as anything less than understanding and accepting.

 

Thank you for your understanding.

Love and solidarity,

Ibtisam

 

 

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Update

For those of you who are not part of the mailing list – please join by becoming a member of the Network! All you have to do is click on the SU website link and add membership to your basket (it’s free!!). 

Below is an email I sent out just now, full of stuff I think you guys should know before the next academic year begins. 

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Hello everyone!

With a new academic year beginning, we have a new committee. My name is Lux and I’m your new LGBT+ officer. You can find out more about myself and the other committee members here: https://uon-su-lgbt.com/committee/. (Hover over the “committee” link and select “contact” for all of our email addresses.)

This email will contain a brief outline of what the LGBT+ Network plans on doing this year – please do read on because we have a lot of exciting things in store!

Committee

I’ve put a lot of thought into the best way to organise the network – meeting the aims of the network effectively and sorting them into roles that can be on committee. I’ve had some questions as to why we no longer have reps on committee, so I thought this might be worth explaining:

A couple of years ago we had a lot of reps on committee (including BME, disabled, postgrad etc.). It was largely the case that the reps didn’t do as much as the committee members with specific roles, seeing as their role was simply to be representative of a certain group. Whilst inclusivity is important, we are making a massive effort this year to make the network as effective as possible, at the same time as keeping inclusivity in mind. I think it will be far more conducive to the network to focus on the roles that have an active part in meeting our aims, and therefore not having representative roles on committee.

The aims of the network are: (copied from the constitution)

  1. Aim and Objectives
    • The aims of the Network shall be to create a safe and engaging space for LGBT+ students through:
      • Supporting the network members through our welfare team as well as signposting the various welfare and outreach programs in Nottingham and at the University.
      • Organising campaigns on issues affecting our members and to further the equality of LGBT+ students in the university environment.
      • Organising various social events through which LGBT+ students can meet each other in a safe space.
      • Provide all services in a way that is fair and accessible to everyone.

Our three Welfare Officers are involved with 1.1.1, we have two Campaigns Coordinators in charge of 1.1.2, and two Social Secretaries to cover 1.1.3. We also have a General Secretary and Treasurer who handles our admin, finances, and deputises in my absence.

Whilst I understand that there’s a difference between being represented and having a general committee, I feel that the welfare team can undertake any representation issues that surface. For example, the welfare team directed trans+ issues my way last year (when I was a social sec) because I identify as non-binary. Our committee this year is relatively diverse, so hopefully most representation/intersection issues can be pointed in the direction of a relevant committee member. If not, then the committee as a team will work together to tackle the member’s needs, and perhaps even using outside resources (such as other networks and welfare resources within the university).

In this way, I feel that it’s more effective to have a small, aims-based committee rather than a large one where some of the roles aren’t as active as others.

New things

  • Constitution: we’re re-writing our constitution. This is a document that outlines the aims of the Network, as well as how the committee should be run, how elections should take place, etc. Please keep an eye out on the website and Facebook pages as we’ll be polling to see what changes you’d like us to include.

 

  • Supporting Trans+ Members (STM): this year I’ve started a project whereby we’ll be providing our trans+ members with free or discounted necessities. Being a student is financially challenging as it is, let alone being a trans+ student and having to purchase things to tackle dysphoria. Further, it’s often dangerous to your health to buy cheap and low-quality products (binders, for example, can cause a lot of damage to your ribs and lungs if they’re not good quality). If you identify as anything under the trans+ umbrella and are in need of some discounted or free products, please do respond to this email with a link to a product you’d like or a short description and we’ll place you on the waiting list. To fund STM, we’ll be running a number of FUNdraisers (haha), such as bar crawls, pub quizzes, etc.

 

  • Awareness Week: the week beginning the 10th of October will be dedicated to raising awareness of the different intersections within the LGBT+ community. The aim of this is to help understanding of LGBT+ identities, especially with National Coming Out Day being the 11th. There’ll be talks and events as well as posters and flyers all around the university. Keep an eye out for ways to get involved!

 

  • Zine: this will be a creative space for us to share stories, write articles, review LGBT+ media, poetry, art and more. Ellis Harris will be the Zine editor – please feel free to email apyeh2@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk to see how you can help with the next edition.

Events

We have a lot of fun things planned including:

  • Bar crawls
  • Scene crawls in different cities
  • Formals
  • Cafes (food and drink on UP campus) and Mooch socials
  • Intersection cafes (events geared at specific LGBT+ intersections)
  • Pride club night

Join the Facebook group to find out specifics closer to the time!

 

Thank you for reading this long and arduous email, I hope this is as lengthy as they’ll get in the coming year.

 

I hope you’re all having a fun and safe summer! Remember that our welfare team is always available if you’re having a tough time.

 

That’s all for now, but if you have any questions, please do email me!

 

Your LGBT+ Officer,

Lux