LUU’s LGBTQ+ Month wages war on damaging norms

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The 2017 incarnation of LGBT History Month has already marked itself out with the inauguration of Leeds University Union’s first women centred queer dance party, Scissors, ahead of a packed programme of events.

On Wednesday, Pyramid cafe held a pre-party for the new club night featuring a vibrant mix of spoken word performances and cabaret before re-opening for the main event featuring the likes of DJ producer NikNak, Tami Pein and Karis, the founder of underground party WhyNot?

Speaking of her aims for Scissors, which seeks to displace the  LGBTQ+ scene’s focus on white, gay, slim, and able-bodied men, and for the month’s schedule of events more broadly, Equality and Diversity Officer Emma Healey signalled her innovative focus upon intersectional challenge above the usual historicisation:

“It’s too often that our validity as LGBTQ+ people revolves around the “norm.” This month aims to challenge this notion – to establish ourselves as varied and complex people who seek to not be defined solely by our sexuality or gender identity.”

While the chosen themes for this year are Citizenship, PSHE and Law (2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales), Healey aims to tackle the ideas and expectations which are heaped upon those within the LGBTQ+ community, and which often essentialise LGBTQ identities. The Union’s use of “+” seeks to avoid reducing people to solely being conceived of within an LGBTQ frame.

The Union’s campaign aims to expose “the assumption that to be LGBTQ+ is incompatible with faith, the pressure that is put on people to be ‘out’ even when that may cause harm, the lack of recognition of different cultural understandings of homosexuality and gender, the absence of LGBTQ+ spaces that are targeted at women, the erasure of bisexuality, and the pervasive notion of disabled people as non-sexual.”

Building on Scissors’ provision of a women-centred space, the next event on the calendar is Speak Up Presents: Rowan Ellis, a discussion and Q&A on LGBT representation in pop culture (Tuesday the 7th in Function). 

Three further panel discussions have been planned to meet Healey’s stated aims: “LGBTQ+ and Coming Out” on Thursday the 16th, “Trans People of Colour” (followed by a Trans only space with arts, crafts and refreshments) on Wednesday the 22nd and “LGBTQ+ and Faith” rounding off proceedings on the 27th.

Previous panels have been good humoured, edifying and engaging, but for those wishing to become more aware of Trans issues, a ‘Gendered Intelligence Workshop’ will run on the 22nd for anyone who is keen to be more trans inclusive and supportive.

Entertainment will be provided in the shape of a screening of Sins Invalid next Saturday (the 11th of February), a performance project film which explores the intersectionality of disability and sexuality, along with an LGBT comedy night on the 21st.  Mae Martin, Mawaan Rizwan and Avery Addison will provide the laughs in return for the nominal sum of £7 for a student ticket.

Full details of all of the events, including times and locations, are available on the LUU website.

Sarah Berry 

(Image: LUU)

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