Re-Radicalising Queers – a public discussion on the LGBT movement took place on the 15th of February at Canterbury Christ Church University. The event was organised by CCCq, the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and intersex staff network and hosted a range of speakers including international Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell, Prof. Bee Scherer, CCCU; Sue Sanders, School͛s OUT; Paul Twocock, Stonewall and Rt Reverend Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham.
The event was opened by Elzy Clements-Johnson, President of the student LGBT+ society who commented on how the LGBT community has developed and progressed to give those who don’t fit into the traditional categories a space and a voice. Vice-Chancellor Professor Rama Thirunamachandran gave the welcoming address and noted the various political, legal and social achievements of the LGBT movement in the past five decades and thanked the organisers of Re-Radicalising Queers for creating the space to discuss how to move forward, given the various challenges and inequalities that are prevalent for the LGBT community.
Keynote speaker Peter Tatchell took the audience on a chronological trip, focussing on some of the major achievements to date and remembering the queer activists who have gone before. ‘We walk in their shadows,’ Tatchell remarked. Within his address Peter questioned the continuing focus on equality, suggesting that the liberation movement of the 70s and 80s was far more ambitious, striving to change society for the better rather than become equal citizens in a flawed system.
Following this, the panel members each gave a short input on their own perspectives on the LGBT movement. Professor Scherer remarked on the need to disrupt and destruct hetero-patriarchy within society, suggesting that many movements disguised as liberal and progressive prop up this system. They described Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’s as the fourth pillar of hetero-patriarchy. Paul Twocock of Stonewall remarked on how important it is to recognise the diversity within the categories that are within ‘LGBT’ and how the movement to date has been void of many of the different voices and faces it claims to support and represent. He stressed the importance of working with LGBT people within their own communities, supporting them to achieve what they need on their own terms. Sue Sanders, another veteran LGBT activist and initiator of LGBT History Month spoke about how essential it is to acknowledge where we have come as a movement, and the impact that this work has had within the school system. Sue stressed how important it is to disrepute and disrupt the binaries which society forces on us and to embrace intersectionality. She entertained the audience with anecdotes and got great cheers when she suggested ‘being queer is being a bit naughty’. Finally, Bishop Alan Wilson asserted the need to tackle discrimination through the theology which supposedly props it up, reflecting on how much church and religious institutions have impacted on LGBT lives. Again highly entertaining, Bishop Alan proposed that if he was to take a ‘biblical view on sex and gender’ he would have a ‘mountain of foreskins’ in his back garden.
The audience were thoroughly engaged during the questions and answers session. Topics covered included the discrimination within the LGBT community itself, the importance and usefulness of categories and data collection, how language is important, which words should be celebrated and which ‘buried’, on how balance is struck between seemingly opposing agendas in faith and sexual freedom and how we ensure that the LGBT movement embraces non-white queers and tackles racism.
The evening was closed by John Gilmore and Katja Hallenberg, the co-chairs of CCCq. John remarked: ‘Tonight is neither the beginning nor the end of this conversation, this event is about motivating, empowering and radicalising local activists to challenge the system we live in. We as a movement have never had our toe on the line, I suggest maybe towing the line away altogether.’ Katja added thanks to the various people within the university who worked behind the scenes in supporting the event, especially the Equality and Diversity Unit and the Vice-Chancellor’s office for their sponsorship. Special thanks were also given John who as the principle organiser ‘did the lion’s share of the work, from the initial idea, to sourcing amazing speakers and pulling everything together’.
The event achieved national media coverage due to NUS LGBT officer Fran Cowling refusing an invitation to speak unless Peter Tatchell pulled out. She stated that NUS membership would not permit her to share a platform with Tatchell because of accusations of racism and transphobia. John Gilmore noted that university were disappointed that NUS refused the invite, stating: ‘The student voice is of central importance to us and we really wanted to have NUS represented at the event. We understand that our community is diverse and that individuals will have divergent views, but think that we should bring these views together and debate them. This is what Re-Radicalising Queers was about. While we are disappointed that NUS felt that they could not attend, we are really delighted to have been able to work with our own LGBT+ student society and Students’ Union for this event and we are very lucky to have such eloquent and passionate representatives at CCCU, like Elzy who opened our event’.
Re-Radicalising Queers formed part of LGBT History Month events. For more information about the CCCq network and future events, follow the blog, our Twitter or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
***Photos courtesy of Patrick de Vries, full album can be found here.
On the first of February Canterbury Christ Church University raised the Pride flag outside Augustine House library and launched its programme for LGBT History Month 2016. Present were Pro Vice Chancellor Tony Lavender and Student Union President Krum Tashev as well as a number of representatives from CCCq the LGBTQi staff network, the LGBT+ student society and members of the public.
During the reception following, CCCq co-chair John Gilmore noted ‘LGBT History Month provides us not only with a space for reflection on, and celebration of, our history as a community and as a movement, but also a platform to look towards the future and to where Queer politics and activism is going’. Katja Hallenberg co-chair added thanks to the many collaborators from both within the university staff and student communities as well as the public, she added ‘raising the flag does not only represent a celebration of LGBT History Month but also of the work being done by staff and students here right throughout the year’. This year’s keynote event will be held on the 15th of February in Powell lecture theatre at 6pm, it is a public discussion on ‘Re-Radicalising Queers’ led by renowned human rights activist Peter Tatchell and will also feature Bishop of Buckingham Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson. Other events include a public lecture by Elly Barnes of Educate and Celebrate at 5.30 on the 8th of February in Old Sessions House and a film screening and discussion on ‘Pinkwashing’ on February 22nd at 6.30 in association with Israeli Apartheid week organisers following their public lecture at 5.30 in Old Sessions House.
Shani Lewis from the student society gave a run down of their events for the month. On Friday the 5th there will be a ‘Non-Binary comedy night’ at the students union at 7pm, on Thursday the 11th they will host a Quiz night at the Jolly Sailor at 7pm, on Saturday the 27th there will be a Variety show at Anselm studio and on Monday the 29th they are joining with their counterparts at the University of Kent to host a screening of ‘Pride’ at University of Kent. They will also host cake sales throughout the week of the 1st and the week of the 22nd at touchdown. All fundraising efforts will benefit TG Pals.
All events are open to staff, students and public and everyone is warmly invited to join in the celebrations, discussions and networking.
CCCq has an exciting programme for this year’s LGBT History Month. All of the events are public and we would love to see you there. Please see below for details!
Our keynote event on Feb 15th is looking to be particularly interesting! Come along to discuss and debate!
Wishing you a great LGBT History Month from CCCq!
The event aims to bring together, academics, activists, LGBT organisations and the general public for an open discussion on the future of the LGBT movement. Our keynote speaker is award winning international human rights activist Peter Tatchell, and we hope to have representatives from Stonewall, RIP Pride, NUS and Trans London present also on the night.
The event forms a key part of our LGBT History Month Calendar at the University and directly links to the network and university’s commitment to the values of public engagement, debate and education.
Please pass on details of the event across your networks and contacts, and we will follow up in the new year with further details.
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful holiday season from all of us at CCCq!