SRC Reports – Queer Edition, Semester 2

SRC Reports from the annual Queer edition.

Queerkat Collective Report: Elsa Kohane

When Holly and I first talked about the idea of an autonomous non- cis male collective last year, I don’t think we ever could have imagined the huge success Queerkats would ultimately turn out to be. While both of us felt incredibly connected to and cared a lot about QuAC, we were both fairly dissatisfied with the cis male dominance of the collective and the lack of effort or success in fixing it or even acknowledging that it was
a problem.

That first Queerkats meeting was incredibly nerve-wracking! But so many people came along, many who we’d never seen before in QuAC, and there seemed to be a real sense of excitement for this new collective. Though numbers haven’t remained quite as high as those first few meetings, consistent attendance has led to the creation of a wonderfully vibrant and dynamic collective with such dedicated and amazing members. It has become more of a community than I ever could have expected or hoped for.

Beyond that, I am very proud of how active we have managed to be for such a new collective. Our most recent endeavour is planning an Art Party for the end of semester. To be held at the Red Rattler on Wednesday the 29th of October (Wk 13), it will aim to celebrate and showcase the creativity and scope of non-normative queer experiences. We are always looking for new perspectives! If you would like to submit an artwork or perform please contact the Queer Officers at queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

Queerkats is obviously not perfect, and we still have a long way to go in terms of representing as many identities as we can. But it’s undeniable success just goes to show the number of wonderful people willing and eager to be involved in the queer community, if only it were open and welcoming to the diversity of experience that may fall under the queer umbrella. Queerkats will continue to work towards becoming a more inclusive collective, and I look forward to our community only growing as a result.

Queer Officers’ Report: David Shakes, Ed McMahon, Elsa Kohane, Holly Parrington

The queer community at the University of Sydney has been kicking goals this year. I think Queer Honi is the perfect time of the year to reflect on our successes and recognise what we’re working towards.

Pride Festival in week 2 of this semester was an incredible success, with many different corners of the queer community contributing to what was a very diverse and engaging festival. In the last couple of weeks, Queer Revue put on an incredibly clever show, The Nightmare Before Mardi Gras. The USU ran Radical Sex and Consent Day for the first time ever, which was a very visible, valuable, queer-inclusive event; basically it was what sex education should have been in high school. SHADES hosted the amazing afterparty, featuring some of Sydney and the University of Sydney’s best drag and burlesque acts. There are gender neutral bathrooms under construction in the Holme building by the queerspace. The USYD Queer Arab Film Festival has free screenings every Wednesday at 4pm. Our newly refurbished space will soon be ready for occupation. It’s a good time to be queer.

The university affords queer students a multitude of ways in which to engage with queer programs, and a huge focus of this year for the Queer Officers was to encourage a more accessible collective environment, as a more inclusive political organising space. Collectivism is so important to the queer struggle, without it my understanding of queer politics would probably be restricted to gay marriage. We need to ensure that our entire community is supported, heard, and respected. Community is super important. Queer Honi made explicit attempts to make this edition “intersectional”: as representative of the broad spectrum of queer identities in our community as possible, and their efforts should be noted. Intersectionality is the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination, and discrimination. While it’s difficult, potentially impossible, to foster a collective environment completely free from -isms and -phobias, I’m confident in saying that the queer collective has taken important steps towards challenging the patriarchal and white supremacist perversions of our safer space, and I only hope that we can remain self-critical as this trend continues throughout the rest of the year.

There’s much more to look forward to this year in queer: between moving into the new queerspace, to Glitter Gala, to the Identity program currently being run at 5pm on Wednesdays in the queerspace, there are still plenty of opportunities to engage this year. Find us, “SRC Queer Department”, on Facebook, and send us a message if you’re keen to get involved.

Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Officer’s Report: Oscar Monaghan

Structures of oppression do not work in isolation. Whatever white supremacy touches, it structures. So too, with queerphobia, misogyny and ableism: wherever they exist, they are at work structuring our relationships with each other and with the world. There is no space safe or free from them. This means, that for those of us at the intersections, the communities that are essential to our survival are also capable of causing great pain and doing great harm.

Our anti-racist organising will be nothing, unless we are actively trying to understand and organise against the many ways queerphobia manifests in our communities and our work. Our queer organising is nothing if our queer spaces are almost totally inhospitable to First Nations peoples and people of colour.

Our organising will be nothing if it is not always scrutinising the insidious nature of power.

‘Intersectionality’ is not a buzzword; it was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw as she deconstructed the way Black women experience marginalisation along multiple axes to show the way this affects their physical, and emotional safety and survival. So it is not a buzzword to be used for credit in our activist spaces; it is a framework of liberation that centres Black women, and it has given us a way to conceptualise a liberation that leaves no one behind.

We can start by making our communities safer: what economies of power circulate in our spaces? What norms are structuring how we live with and love each other?

Our goals should ultimately be bigger, but unless the communities we are working within are made safer, we are merely reinscribing oppression into the fabric of our activism.  I want my queer community, anti-racist and decolonial; and I want my anti-racism decolonial and queer.

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