NUS motion against gay men’s rep

first_imgRecent NUS conference agenda motions have called for LGBTQ+ societies to drop their position of a gay men’s rep, stating that “gay men do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBTQ+ community”.The motivation behind encouraging LGBTQ+ societies to drop their gay men’s rep positions is a response to “misogny, transphobia, racism and bophobia [that] are often present in LGBTQ+ societies,” which is “unfortunately made more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white cis[gender] gay men,” the motion alleges.Oxford’s LGBTQ+ Soc told Cherwell they supported the motion, saying, “Although we have a male welfare rep, as queer men suffer bigotry in wider society, and they need support, there is no problem within Oxford LGBTQ+ spaces for gay male representation. This is evidenced by our current committee being the first ever to have a woman president.“We would also like to point out that our male welfare rep is not a ‘gay male welfare rep’ – the role encompasses bi, asexual and trans men as well as cis gay men. Therefore we do not see the NUS motion as a criticism to our society.”Some students expressed concern that the motion would damage the balance within the LGBTQ+ community and the welfare of gay men. Jack Schofield, a second year Christ Church student, told Cherwell, “While I don’t deny that gay men are in many ways a comparatively privileged group within the LGBTQ community, for the NUS to advocate the abolition of gay men’s reps seems like an attack and a grave misunderstanding of the serious and multifaceted issues gay men face.“Such a rep’s role is in any case largely a welfare role, so it is ridiculous and offensive that they should wish to deny gay men an optimal point of contact for advice for problems which affect them specifically as gay men, and I do not believe the NUS is acting in the best interests of its students at all in this regard.”Bearing the title “Defending Safe(r) spaces and No Platforming”, motions 408 and 408a, submitted by “individuals”, also note the variety of existing definitions of “safe(r) spaces”. While the motion states that a “strength” of the term “safe space” is that it means different things to different communities and invdividuals”, it also states that these spaces are “essential to liberation” and that when “debated for academic ends” they undermine the concept, one that is “vital to the active participation of many students on campus.” Responding to the NUS’ statement, Harry Samuels, NUS delegate for Oxford, told Cherwell, “I am highly disappointed by the passage of this motion which serves to further this false idea that LGBTQ societies are solely engines for liberation politics rather than social spaces as well. This motion’s passage gives the implication that gay men face no intolerance, or that the intolerance they face is somehow lesser, a pernicious but sadly continuing belief in certain circles.“The existence of these reps is vital for representation and for gay men who may need someone to turn to for sexual and sexual health advice, or for welfare advice, and Oh Well, Alright Then condemns this motion in the strongest terms as an example of the privileged and ignorant activism of certain circles within the NUS which we stood for election to prevent.”Adam Farrow, a graduate student at the University of Durham who first tweeted about the motion, told Cherwell, “This is a ludicrous statement. First, it presumes that the only purpose of gay men reps in LGBTQ+ societies is to further a political agenda, which is false.“Many gay men are able to truly be themselves for the first time at university. This adjustment can be difficult for many, and so they seek the comfort of a representative who they know understands the position they are in. Second, the fact that the NUS no longer consider gay men oppressed enough to deserve representation seems to be nothing more than what the NUS usually refer to as ‘victim blaming’. Because gay men aren’t apparently oppressed as much as other LGBTQ+ groups, they should not receive ANY representation.”Farrow highlights that “safe spaces are something the NUS fervently defend. According to motion 408, it is because ‘when [safe spaces] are debated for academic ends, a concept that is vital to the active participation of many students on campus is undermined’.“This is categorically incorrect. It is not dangerous to discuss the idea of safe spaces in academic environments. It is dangerous to stifle debate about any issue, and particularly ones such as safe spaces and no-platforming. It’s offensive that the NUS think so little of the students that they represent that they want Student Unions to no-platform individuals on ‘ideological grounds’.”last_img

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