Between the 21st and 25th of September, the ANU Queer* Department will host the annual Pride Week, creating a forum for LGBTIQ students to discuss their concerns, while also highlighting current issues regarding marriage equality, LGBT refugees, and bisexuality.
Open to the participation of queer students and their supporters, the week’s events range from social gatherings (such as Monday’s inter-university picnic and Friday’s Queer Ball), to some that are more academic and activist in nature.
Whilst there is no overarching theme to the week, Queer* Department Officer Kat Reed told Woroni that the Department “[aims] to create safe space for LGBTIQ students to express themselves and to provide the opportunity for others to show their support.”
“We want to make this campus a safe place for queer students to express themselves and we hope to encourage all to do that with this week. We’d also like the week to raise awareness of the current issues that surround the community such as misconceptions about bisexuality, LGBT refugees, marriage equality and being out in the workplace,” Reed said.
On Wednesday the 23rd, a panel on the misconceptions surrounding bisexuality will be held, educating attendees on the myths surrounding bisexual persons and their personal experiences, especially given the stigmatisation of the label in both the general public and the LGBT community.
Reed recognised it as an issue that still “needs awareness”, and that “Biphobia, which even happens within the queer community, really impacts on people’s mental health and wellbeing so it is essential for the Queer* Department to look into ways of educating and supporting individuals who identity as [bisexual] or [pansexual].”
The Queer* Department also plans to host a panel on LGBT refugees on the same day, in conjunction with the ANU Refugee Action Committee, hoping to broaden the perspective of queer students in rights activism.
Reed stated that while fighting for marriage equality in Australia was important, students should also consider the specific issues facing queer-identifying refugees fleeing persecution.
“Many refugees are questioned intensively and asked to prove that they are queer in order to gain safety. The proving of one’s identity is something that we as a community don’t agree with, so this is an opportunity to learn and see if we can help our fellow LGBT individuals.”
On Thursday the 24th, a rally for marriage equality is also planned, at which experienced LGBT activist Ivan Hinton has been invited to speak. Hinton is Campaign Director of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy, lobbying, and educational organisation “working for equal marriage for all consenting adults”, as per their website.
Reed hopes the rally will gather around 200 participants in Union Court and was created “for ANU students to show their support and to include the voices of ANU students in particular in the fight for our rights.”