October is recognized as Pride Month in South Africa, and the University of Pretoria’s queer society, Tuks UP&Out, is continuing the support. In addition to hosting their annual UP Pride this month, which has had to take place virtually, Tuks UP&Out received a nomination for the 2020 Feather Awards. Tuks UP&Out is a society that strives to create a safe and comfortable environment for queer bodies to exist across UP campuses, achieving this through creating events where queer people feel comfortable to safely express themselves, as well as lobbying for policy changes on campus that will help protect the rights of the queer community. PDBY reached out to the UP&Out team to talk more about pride month, their nominations, and the celebrations they have in store.
How does it feel knowing that Tuks UP&Out was nominated for the esteemed Feather Award?
Receiving this nomination felt amazing because it helped us recognise that we are doing right by our community. We know that we are not perfect and that we have to change, but what this nomination does is tell us that we are still making an impact on our society on behalf of the [queer] community – that as we grow as an organization, so does our reach. It really helps us with issues such as the legitimacy and influence of our society.
The awards, now in their 12th year of existence, are an annual recognition of trailblasers in the African queer landscape. Founded by queer activists Thami Kotlolo and Joe Correira, the Feather Awards also celebrate groups that “enrich the community”, such as media bodies and queer student movements – just like Tuks UP&Out, which received a nomination in the “Best LGBTIQ Student Movement” category, alongside North-West University and the University of Cape Town’s queer student movements.
How does such a nomination help withthe visibility and recognition of the queer community at UP?
This nomination helps to tell the University and the greater public that we are still here, and that we will never be complacent because there is still so much work to be done for the community on campus. It also tells the university that we as Tuks UP&Out are serious, and that there should be more engagement with us as an organization when it comes to transformation at this University.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UP Pride celebrations have had to be moved online, which took place during Monday 19 October and Friday 23 October. These virtual celebrations included a conversation on the history of drag with Genevieve Le Coq, a dialogue on Queer Health and Stigmas, an exhibition debate in partnership with the Debate Society, as well as a panel discussion on Res Culture and Queerness.
All these events brought many queer students together to share their experiences and learn from one another, making for just a few of the many opportunities and safe spaces that members of the queer community on campus can enjoy that the UP&OUT society actively strives to achieve.
As the year wraps up and we steadily prepare for another year, what does Tuks UP&Out have planned for the future?
As we get closer to the end of the year, our biggest mission is to get through and celebrate UP Pride Week successfully. As for the rest of the year, Tuks UP&Out will be doing a lot of internal administrative work so that we can provide the UP students a spectacular 2021 full of things to look forward to. People should keep an eye out on our social media accounts to ensure that everyone stays updated!
To join the UP&Out family, contact the society on firstname.lastname@example.org to get a registration form.
Keep up to date with the latest news from Tuks UP&Out community by following them on their social media pages: Twitter & Instagram: @tuks_andout