LGBTIAQ+ society, UP&Out hosted pride week from 26 to 29 September, which aimed to celebrate pride within the LGBTIAQ+ community. On 26 September, the week began with students painting the graffiti wall behind the disability unit on Hatfield campus.
Discrimination within the LGBTIAQ+ community seminar
On 27 September, UP&Out hosted a seminar on discrimination within the LGBTIAQ+ community. The seminar was chaired by UP and Out’s transformation officer, Thiruna Naidoo. A panel of students discussed issues and shared experiences after which the discussion was opened up to the floor. The panel consisted of David Ikpo, the communications officer for the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) unit of the centre of human rights at UP, Kea Mathobelo, an LLM student and Kegan Gaspar, an English honours student.
In the discussion, the panel defined queerness and spoke about how the term queer has been redefined and reclaimed by the queer community. Each panellist shared their own experiences within the community and agreed that labelling within the community can be seen as a nuanced and subjective experience.
The discussion then shifted to racism within the queer community and how white, gay men have positions of privilege within the community and how these individuals marginalise other identities. Members from the floor also brought up issues of white privilege and how individuals who do not fit the “accepted norms” within the community are excluded and shamed. There were counter arguments about the blurred line between discrimination and preferences within the community, however, the panel agreed that the manner in which other identities are excluded is problematic.
There were also arguments made that claimed that there is racial segregation within the community and how black gay men are often fetishized and how, “people often see race before they see the queerness” according to one member from the floor. The panellists acknowledged that more forums need to be held where discussion can take place and agreed that there are levels of hierarchy within the community.
On 28 September, a group of students gathered outside of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G) next to Oom Gert’s. They painted boards and placards and began marching around campus. Students sang songs and chanted as they marched towards the Law building, turned past Kloostersaal and then past the Thuto building. The group was in high spirits as they moved around Thuto and towards the open grass area in front of the Aula, where the unified chant was, “We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere!” They then moved to the student centre. The group then marched in the Piazza and soon concluded the march at the graffiti wall where pictures were taken.
According to Naidoo, the march was held in order to “[make] fellow students aware that there is a society that aims to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. Visibility was our main focus…”.
Photo: Fezekile Msimang