OUSU executives debate over exclusion in LGBTQ

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A post on the online zine No HeterOx has opened up mass debate over issues within Oxford’s LGTBQ community.

OUSU VP for Welfare and Equal Opportunities Chris Pike and OUSU LGTBQ Officer Jenny Walker were among those active in the discussion.

Walker’s post to the Facebook group No HeterOx on 24th January, recommending a Cherwell Comment piece by Pike concerning ableism was challenged by group members, particularly for a reference to “the ‘gaytriarchy’ of quiche and plush and being super ott exuberant all the time”. At the time of writing, the thread has over 130 messages.

Concerns were raised over several ideas, primarily those concerning issues of exclusion within Oxford’s LGTBQ community. Recurring themes included the LGTBQ Society, ableism and the idea of the “gaytriarchy” referenced in Walker’s initial post.

Among the participants were several ex-OUSU sabs and prominent members of the LGTBQ community, including ex-OUSU president Tom Rutland, ex-OUSU Disabilities Officer  Will Neaverson, and editor of No HeterOx, Annie Teriba.

Several individuals had comments directed towards them, including Chris Pike and Tom Rutland, and others have expressed their unhappiness at the tone of comments.

Alice Nutting wrote on the thread that: “As a non neurotypical, disabled person I’m really upset by some of the responses here.”

Chris Pike told The Oxford Student: “I never expected my article to be the tinder box for such an enormous discussion. I think unpleasant comments and misunderstandings were made by both sides, and I also believe both sides have learned something both from the article and from the discussion.

“My hope now is that we can turn the negative into a positive: opening up a conversation, which I know the society’s committee was already having, about how to make the LGBTQ scene in Oxford more inclusive and welcoming. Not just for autistic people, not just for disabled people, but for all LGBTQ people.”

A further post made by Walker two days later said: “I want to make sure something good comes out of the very long, confusing and intense thread below. I don’t mean this as a justification – I made a mistake with the way I posed my point and I’m really sorry that that upset so many people.”

She then went on to clarify certain points she had made, saying: “I never actually said confident people need to tone it down: that was inferred by people commenting. In fact, I didn’t have any clear solutions. Neither, as someone voicing their concerns, did I have to. Demanding a clear solution from someone who is already saying something quite scary and potentially isolating, can feel pretty aggressive from the receiving end.

“I suppose what I should have said right out was this – I think people in the queer scene (evidently myself included) could all work at being better listeners.”

The latest post on the debate at the time of writing dates from 26th January, although new posts have been made on the group page, inspired by concerns raised over the course of the debate.

On 27th January, Otamere Guobadia, President of Oxford LGTBQ Soc, published a Facebook status on behalf of the society saying: “I would just like to briefly say a few words before tonight’s drinks. The last few days have been pretty precarious, and have brought to the front of our minds problems with the nature and scope of our events, as well as with the atmosphere and inclusivity of our society and our community.

“I would just like to reiterate that we are stepping back and listening, and we want this society and everyone who wants to be a part of it, to feel completely and utterly safe and welcome, and we are fully aware that some things must change for that to happen”.

Image: Tim Thumb

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