16 February 2006

UC queer students want space

| Kerces
Join the conversation

Earlier there was some discussion about what’s happening for O Week at the universities around town.

Yesterday the University of Canberra held their market day — when the various clubs, societies and anyone else wanting to flog things to students set up a stall and proceed to flog.

This being one of the biggest crowd-attracting events (possibly because it’s also about the time people start thinking about everything they need to do to get organised for next week), it was also the day the Student Association and queer collective UCanQ chose to launch their campaign for a dedicated queer space at UC.

Queer space campaign launch

I headed on down to the uni in the afternoon, mainly in search of textbooks, cheap newspapers and so on, and caught up with UCSA Sexuality Officer Jessica Rodgers who is leading the campaign.

Jess said the launch included speeches by herself, national Queer Affairs Officer Rachel Evans, Wollongong Uni Queer Officer Karlee Jones and UTS Queer Officer Chris Brew (who is an ex UC and ANU student). It looks like from the photos she sent me they had a bit of a march as well.

At this stage the campaign mainly consisted of getting people to sign a petition to the University asking for a queer space, as well as flyers, posters, chalked messages and a stall all aimed at raising awareness of the issue.

UCanQ stall

One of the flyers explained that a queer space is “a room for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, genderqueer and questioning students”.

“A queer only space provides a safe space for queer students to meet, socialise, politically organise and simply act without fear in public, in a way that heterosexual students take for granted.”

Jess said, “We desperately need a queer space to help queer students come out. Queer Spaces are safe spaces where queer students can feel comfortable to be themselves and not fear queerphobia, which can sometimes take the form of violence; they can seek out information and build strong networks.”

“We have not identified a space as yet, we are more hoping to build the launch, build interest and get more people to help.”

In the hour or so before I arrived the campaigners collected more than 150 signatures and said they had found most clubs and societies were supportive of their cause. Thirteen activists from NSW universities came to help out and Jess said they were making sure to explain the cause to people signing the petition, not “just shoving it in their face”.

She said she hoped to be able to put in a submission to the University, including the petition circulating yesterday, in a month’s time.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

I’m pretty sure there’s been a few comments along the lines of “why do they have to rub all this in our faces”, or “I’m over this gay thing”. Which, when you consider the amount of hetrosexuality rubbed in everyones faces, is ever so slightly ridiculous.

Do I think that gay guys groping each other and dressing in revealing clothing in public is kinda stupid and gross? Yep I do. I think the same thing about hetro teenagers (and those with the brains of teenagers) who do the same thing. And there’s a fair wack of ’em out there, people.

So, yeah. There’s a side of me that agrees that, yep, exclusionary spaces are a mistake (in any kind of context). There’s another side of me that thinks – hey, it’d be nice to shut out the hetrosexual world for a few minutes and just be able to bitch and whine about the stuff that still sucks. Just because we’re not getting punched and kicked any more doesn’t mean that we’re problem free.

I still don’t feel comfortable talking about my love-life at work, and I sit next to a bloke who has happily said, on more than one occasion, that he’s a homophobe. I have an aunt who have said such wonderfully understanding things about gay people as “love the sinner, hate the sin” (never mind the fact that her son has had two children out of wedlock, and is never intending on getting married, yet she’s perfectly willing to accept his kids). My parent’s next door neighbour is a mostly lovely guy, who regularly looks after our dog – and who disowned his son when he came out of the closet.

So society has advanced. But there’s still a hell of a lot of crap out there that I’ve tolerated, and accepted. And I understand the desire to say “fuck ’em all”.

By that I mean that I don’t work for the ABS. thought I’d clarify.

Don’t work for the ABS simto, but thought I would point out that I think (that in Australia anyway) the homosexual community is fairly well represented.

Simto – I don’t see the complaints that the homosexual community gets attention; that’s certainly not my angle. My angle is that I thought we (as a society) had come further than the anti-homosexual sentiments of the days of yore – but maybe I’m wrong about that.

I only speak of my (and my peers) experiences. I worked security in a gay club for a year (five years ago!), and the incidents of my friends and colleagues in and around the club seemed to be that there was not a huge element of queer bashing in the region. Maybe this is reflective of the age and lifestyle of that particular time and place (many of these people are still friends) as opposed to Uni life – I don’t know and I don’t pretend to.

But thinking that the gay community is more prone to the slings and arrows of idiocy than any other type of minority seems daft. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen or that it should happen; I’m saying that it happens to most people.

And it is only my humble opinion that a ‘queer only’ area will only serve to exclude the rest of the community – even those who see themselves as queer friendly may be slighted at the fact that are unwelcome in an area where some of their friends are.

Oh, and in answer to the question about “Big Brother”, etc – the usual stats are one in ten. Since Big Brother has around 12 entrants a season, one per year seems about right.

I’m fully aware that there’s one “gay” movie in cinemas (although it’s about two guys who both marry women and raise children with ’em, so, hey, hetrosexuality ain’t taking a holiday in this film either). Having gone through the list of what’s on at Hoyts at the moment, everything else has either a hetro main plot or a subplot (okay, I’m not entirely sure about Big Mama’s House 2, but I’m going to assume that Martin Lawrence doesn’t embrace his transvestite tendancies and decide to spend the rest of his life in a dress). If I’m moving into the arthouse stream, I think I get a chance to watch “Capote”, too. Otherwise – pretty much everybody’s straight. There’s even a hetro subplot in “Good Night and Good Luck”, for godsake. So my point still stands – the vast majority of cinema is supportive of your life choices as far as romance is concerned, and ignores mine.

And I’m not actually whining about that – just pointing it out. Because there seems to be a lot of “why are gay people getting all this attention” complaints here, and I’m just pointing out that, in the wider world, gay life gets an intifessimally small part of the attention. And pretty much everyone complains whenever it gets any.

Having said all that – I think we’re agreed that if a queer space becomes somewhere to hide and plot and hate the rest of the world, it’s completely useless. On the other hand, if it’s a place to engage with one another and to discuss issues that are of no interest to your average hetro, hey, why the hell not.

On the other side of the coin – sexuality officers in all the unis aren’t doing their job unless they get involved in both sides of the sexuality equation – providing support for anybody with problems or confusions, without jumping to conclusions. If sexuality officers assume that means giving support just to their own sexuality, they’re falling down majorly on the job.

GFB – I want you to understand that Gay people are not alone in being outcast. Good on you if you grew up bush and skinned pigs, I don’t think that has any bearing whatsoever on your sexuality.

As for me opening mymouth and embarrasing my gay mates, I asked a couple of them about this issue at the weekend and they could see botht he positive and the negative behind it. That being said these people are in their thirties and forties and don’t have the same militant views as the ones being purveyed here. Heteros are not the enemy here. Rednecks aren’t the enemy. The enemy is lack of acceptance and education; it is incidental that this is more predominant in what some call ‘redneck’ areas.

Simto – As for Gay role models Simto – when was the last time there was a reality TV show w/o the obligatory queer? Doesn’t matter if your watching the block, big brother, race around the world, my restaurant rules or any of the noxious crap that the networks swill out. Don’t tell me that the Gay community isn’t represented inthe media – if anyting I would suggest they might be over-represented when you look at statistical evidence.

And GFB RE your comment about migrants; No – not all of them have families, and if they do they could well be ten thousand miles away – maybe you can drop past the Italian club, the white eagle club, the serbian club, the croation club, the Austrian club, the Harmonie german club and instigate a conversation with people from a generation who had problems of acceptance and education that make this seem all the more trifling.

I am NOT anti-gay and I am not the enemy; to the militant’s who think that I am I suggest you read my shit more carefully before targetting me as such.

And if you do read it and think that I’m still the enemy it just goes to show that you don’t have to be a ‘redneck’ to be intolerant.

lol, give them a closet to come out of…

*drumroll* boom, boom…

Simto, FYI the latest ‘in’ movie is fudgepack mountain, and the hetero world in a general sense tolerates the majority of homo that are content to hold hands and occasionally kiss in public (like us stinky hetero’s). As in the homo world, there are the few who think that because they are homo they have carte blanche authority to grope each other, openly display sexual organs and otherwise carry on like fuckwits, in the hetero world there are the wayne-o steryiotypes who think the world revolves around drinking themselves into a stupor and picking fights.

I just cant see the requirement to have a room to run the activism from, for as I’m sure you will agree, the decision should be your own, and you shouldnt be pressured either way, be it pro or anti.

I am also concerned genuinely that this room, should it be set up, will quickly become the political mustering area for the few, to the disregard of the many, and that numbers will decline to the point that the whole process was fruitless.

Yes those who led the communist-style revolt will get their political kicks, heck they may even get a few blowjobs out of it, but no real outcomes will be achieved.

You could obtain the same outcomes by putting a soap box in the middle of the communal area and allowing people to proclaim their issues from there, but of course this is going to be overshadowed by the now hallowed requirement to have their own special room to find out that not only is masturbation fun, but doing it to other people is fun too.

Woo Hoo.

Amen, Johnboy. I get a bit miffed when “tarred with the ugly brush” by queer activists.

The NUS intervention reads like a form letter.Jey – in identifying himself as the NUS male queer officer, he is acting on behalf of the NUS, ergo he is “intervening”. Wheather his personal views align with those of the NUS is immaterial.

Mr Jacka, you do your cause no service by trotting out the same plattitudes I’ve been hearing since I first set foot in a university. You’re not convincing me to change my opinion. And as I’ve said before, I’m not the one you need to convince.

Genderfuckbel articulates a better arguement for mine. Yeah – dealing with an unaccepting family must be the toughest part of coming to terms with your sexuality. I doffs my cap to you. A queer room would probably help some people by providing support in matters like this. But isn’t an SA queer support officer well equipped to help out here? Or at the very least point out some others who can?

However, for wider community support (I say again) you have to convince the rednecks that their life is no poorer for your being queer. Wayne-o will probably never march under the rainbow banner, but maybe you can convince him that his sexuality isn’t threatend by talking to a gay guy. Having a tangible sign of queer protest (as distinct from activism) embodied in the queer room does aim this no service IMHO. You’re just creating a magnet for hostility.

As I’ve said, there’s no harm in having a queer room/space/broom cupboard for providing queer support, but the queer community needs to think about what they hope to achieve in the long run.

Maelinar, I’m pretty sure that, almost everywhere you go, you’re getting the message that it’s okay to be Hetro. In my office, people are constantly talking about their kids and their opposite-gendered partners. I go to the movies – chances are most of the films are going to feature a hetrosexual relationship. Look at the magazine rack – on the covers of a lot of the magazines, there’s likely to be a story about some crappy celebrity’s opposite gendered relationship, child or both.

There aren’t that many places, really, where people get a chance to see and be around queer role models. A tiny bit of real estate isn’t really that much, is it?

What about the “mother’s room” on campus…you have to go get a key from the Student Association. Now if you’ve got a child that’s just dirtied its nappy, you aren’t wanting to run around trying to get a damn key or deal with the ignorant people around you when you have to change the nappy in public – and yes I have seen it.

Where’s the Queer room at Signadou? We do have more than 2 Universities in the ACT.

Why should one group get a room (no pun intended) when there are many more people who also “need” a room but don’t get it and get on with their lives?

Precisely what is it that a wannabe Queer person will learn by coming to a room full of other Queers ?

That it’s ok to be a Queer ?
That, no matter what language I speak, it’s ok to be a Queer ?
All of us (in the Queer room) are Queer and it’s ok if you want to be too ?

And in which classroom does a Hetrosexual learn that it’s ok to do all of the above, except change Queer to Hetro ?

Fuck off behind the bike sheds and work it out like everybody else has done you precious tools, and get a life.

Slinky the Shocker5:42 pm 18 Feb 06

I realize this is a tad off-topic, yet still related and damn funny…

NUS intervention?

he just came along and said what he thought

my relationship status doesn’t make me any less bloody queer dammit!

Slinky the Shocker12:33 am 18 Feb 06


Ok, you’ve really fucked me off.

I agree in principle to a room at UC for any given cause, god knows enough other groupings have got their space, why not one more? Hell if a culture of effective action, rather than protest, was guiding this I bet they’d have had one yesterday. It’s not like Uni admins are famously authoritarian or anti-Gay.

But the NUS intervention here is typical for it’s complete failures of causality and logic.

The NUS’s ability to make their contra argument attractive to sane humane beings is truly amazing. I’m betting if you got out of the way this could be resolved positively over a cup of tea. But no. instead we have to propogate a culture of victimhood, because results don’t pave a career in politics like noisy protest do they?

I used to work in cinemas. One of our managers was gay and smoked. One of the security guards smoked. They used to nip out the back for a cigarette all the time and talked as people do. One day the security guard launched into an anti-gay tirade which must have had the manager absolutely terrified for his personal safety. But he stood his ground and told the guard that actually he was gay. Faced with the reality of his friend’s sexuality the security guard experienced a massive conversion in his thoughts on the issue.

My point is that engagement breeds tolerance, retreat breeds exclusion.

Yet in some countries people can be executed for having gay sex or face long terms of imprisonment.

Not in this one. How dare you associate us with those regimes?

By us I mean the whole of Australia.

But allow me to narrow it, this website is home to a large number of openly gay and lesbian people. Which doesn’t make it a queer space, just a space that doesn’t give a damn what the hell you are. That’s what I call a culture of inclusion, it seems to be working.

But you want to talk about oppression, last week i had a “queer identifying” activist in a hetero relationship on my back wanting me to censor a joke by an open homosexual.

Sorry, what was that line about tolerance you were hitting us with? Maybe you don’t know what the hell you were talking about? Lets move on.

Think about it: when have you ever heard of someone killing themselves because they can’t face being straight?
Co-opting the national tragedy of youth suicide to your agenda? That’s staggeringly offensive enough.

But to assume that vulnerable youth aren’t experimenting with any number of lifestyle options in their downward spiral (which is not to associate lifestyle options with downward spirals per se) and to try and co-opt their memory to your political cause? That’s massively callous. Can we watch you take that to their mothers?

what discrimination a straight person faces in this world because of their sexuality?

You’re kidding me right? Gay mafias are at work in any number of workplaces. Is it common, is it a majority of instances? Of course not.

But to suggest it doesn’t exist anywhere? What planet are you orbiting?

Queers can be bashed simply for being who they are

As can nerds, racial minorities of every stripe, and dickheads.

Is that ok in any situation? No (possible exception for dickheads).

they are denied their rights at all sorts of levels in the workplace and in the provision of (Federal) government services.

Something debated ad nauseam on this site. Again, an “out” community engaged with their fellow australians are more likely to effect change here rather than placard carrying activists calling us bastards.

international students and those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds may not feel able to go to bars or whatever because they fear being outed.

Sorry, being seen to hang out in the queer space solves that how?

Trying organise things like this without a Queer space is considerably more difficult.

You have heard of email right?

I encourage them to look at the case of Wollongong Uni, where students were willing to be arrested and charged over demonstrations to get a proper space on campus.

Proving what exactly?

should put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand that life isn’t as rosy as all that if you’re something other than a white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual, Protestant male.

Come again? The queer space is for catholic women? African muslim men? Chinese? Indian hindus? Tibetan Buddhists? None are half as accepting (on average) of the queer community as the white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual, Protestant male.

White anglo-saxon derived societies are amongst the most tolerant in the world so maybe you’d be better advised not tarring us with an ugly brush if you have any interest in either truth or tolerance?

Like I said, what’s another room on campus? Go for it, give me the petition and I’ll sign it. But spare me the bollocks.

genderfuckbel8:44 pm 17 Feb 06


i grew up bush baby! i skinned pigs as a seven year old. i have a family of rednecks.

segregation would be if there where straight only spaces to sit on eat at sleep in. etc.

a queer space is a peer support centre. a room. where perhaps you could even drop by and get education about bent mates, friends, or family members so you don’t feel like such a git when you next open you mouth and offend them. vica verca.

seriously wake up. it’s a straight world everyone assumes straight till proven otherwise.

how many times do i have to fricken shut up in a day, just because i shag chicks instead of tackin cock like everyone first assumes.

and fuck they assume.

everytime i might want to talk about who i might be chassing or seeing. i have to stop and frickin think! are they ok with it being grrls. will i lose my job and be harrasseed!! because of it.

My four fricken brothers can bring down girls they met the day before to christmas dinner.

Me i fuckin have to shut up and bit the bullet.
can’t say a word. let alone bring anyone

give us all a break.

let the queers have their Queer Space on campus. walk by and say hello:) and then go the tav and have a drink.

Because if you want a hetro space on campus the tav is usally where it’s at.

Migrants have families that support the damm it.

Hi there, I’ve just happened upon this blog and have been surprised by some things I’ve read and feel they need correcting. Firstly, I am the other NUS national Queer Officer – the position is not an “appointment” it, like ever other position in NUS is an elected one. Rachel, myself and all the other office bearers were democratically elected by the delegates to NUS national conference. Those delegates themselves are also elected and represent every NUS member campus (including UC) and some 600,000 students across the country.

Secondly, this notion that Queers getting a room is “special treatment” and there should only be “equal treatment.” The reason Queer students need a Queer space on campus is because we live in a world that is often deeply antipathetic to Queers and their needs and sadly, sometimes is violent to them. In such circumstances, when a group of people is oppressed, to simply treat them “equally” as the dominant group in society simply entrenches their inequality and the dominant group’s privilege, and this case, makes them invisible.

Queer spaces serve as an important place where people who may be coming out can meet other Queers who will not judge them and can actually discover that they’re not alone and that Queers are normal people. The isolation faced by Queer youth is a key contributing factor to the heartbreakingly high levels of suicide in the Queer community. Think about it: when have you ever heard of someone killing themselves because they can’t face being straight?

Queer spaces also serve them important function of being a base where Queers can organise for their rights – both on campus and in the wider world. Don’t forget, the first Mardi Gras was organised out of Sydney Uni.

The provision of Queer space on campus is not reverse discrimination – please tell me what discrimination a straight person faces in this world because of their sexuality? Yet in some countries people can be executed for having gay sex or face long terms of imprisonment. Even here, Queers can be bashed simply for being who they are, they are denied their rights at all sorts of levels in the workplace and in the provision of (Federal) government services.

One of the problems with what the anti-Queer space postings have said is that they completely ignore the fact that international students and those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds may not feel able to go to bars or whatever because they fear being outed. The functions organised out of Queer spaces provide a remedy for this inasmuch as they are often things like picnics etc held in neutral venues like parks. Trying organise things like this without a Queer space is considerably more difficult.

If the sceptics have any doubt of the importance of Queer spaces on campus to Queer students, I encourage them to look at the case of Wollongong Uni, where students were willing to be arrested and charged over demonstrations to get a proper space on campus.

Let me conclude by saying that those opposed to Queer spaces (or Women’s or Indigenous spaces for that matter) on campus should put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand that life isn’t as rosy as all that if you’re something other than a white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual, Protestant male.

Well done to Jess and the crew at UC! Keep up the good work guys!

Norman Jacka
NUS Male Queer Officer

I’ve got an ugly space, but last time I got it out in public, I got busted.

Indecent exposure, indeed…

i have one, i have to pay rent for it, it’s also called my apartment.

although generally it’s being over-dressed not feeling too ugly that makes me feel awkward.

JB, maybe you need an ugly space.

Sorry Indi – I’m being overly defensive. I figured I’d have to really fight my corner not to look like a homophobe by saying the room is a bad idea.

Yes – we can be friends 😉

Tallance – all your big words frighten me. But then again, I’m not very bright. What I think you’re saying (correct me if I’m wrong) is that in order to irrefutably reject queerphobia, I need to stop seeing gender in people, and only “attractiveness” (i.e. I’d like to shag you cause I think you’re hot; not I’d like to shag you cause you’re a hot woman.)

I dunno if you need to go that far. I’d settle for “I might like you, I might think you’re an arsehole, but I’ll decide that on merit, not on the basis of your gender/sexuality/race/etc.”

Baby steps, tallance. Baby steps.

hmm, barely a day goes by where i don’t feel awkward or as if people were staring.

I always thought this was a general human condition.

Oh, and I hadn’t seen Tallaces post when I wrote my last one, by the way.

I’m just going to draw on my long, long bow here and ask how this is so different from having men and women only bathrooms? (And I’m sure the RA community are classy enough not to sideline this point with crassness 🙂

I know the functionality and purpose is entirely different but maybe there are just times when different kinds of people like to do their thing in their own space. It doesn’t mean they are going to live there or abandon contact with the wider world, just have a bit of time apart.

Isn’t understanding/accepting this need an important part of living in a tolerant and diverse society?

Mr Shab I was only ribbing you – didn’t mean for the comment to be overtly pointy.

I should state in agreement with you that Canberra has a mixed lot, so…can we still be friends?

I’m always amused when straight people can’t believe that queers get harrassed more than the average individual in society, or that it’s the queer people standing up demanding to be noticed. I think it’s time you just took our word for it and believed that about once a week someone thinks I’m a man while I’m using a public toilet, that absolutely every time I go out I can be guaranteed to be harrassed, often with the threat of violence. The thing is that I can clearly see the connection between the social violence directed at same sex attracted people and people displaying non-normative gender expression and racism and any other kind of marginalised group and that’s why political queer spaces and campaigns have to be actively anti-sexist and anti-racist.

One thing that I think has been overlooked in this series of comments is who the queer space is about. I have always argued that queer spaces are useless if they get called ‘lounges’ and become purely social spaces that can be dominated by social cliques. Rather, queer spaces should be explicitly political spaces which are campaign focussed because this tends to eliminate the question of who deserves to be there. Instead you get people who are actively committed to combatting queerphobia and those people do tend to be ‘queer’, including those individuals who might have primarily opposite sex partners (trans politics for example blurs the homo/hetero binary). In my opinion, queer liberation is different to other marginalised campaigns for tolerance because queer actually argues that ‘heterosexualists’ need not also cleave to hetero-normative values,* in fact, that rejecting normative relationship models and gendered expectations of partners is queer indeed.
So a queer space is not at all about the people that it excludes, it’s about building a strong inclusive queer community with the skills and politics to help drive broader social change.
* This just doesn’t parallel race politics- white privilege is a clearly different and harder to ‘renounce’ than one’s declared sexual orientation.

No, ur doing well Shab, I think we’ve found common ground that won’t involve the marginalisation of any of our peers. And yes, magniliquent is a word (although I may have spelled it incorrectly).

Indi – I’m drowning in a sea of your political correctness. Yeah – Wayne-o would probably be offended. My heart bleeds for him.

I was using Wayne-o as a blunt (and slightly crude) example. How about I say “Gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background non-specific persun of homophobic opinion”. Is that good enough for you? My comments stand.

And I am far from naieve. I’ve lived in and visited cities and country towns all over the world. Much as many in Canberra would like to denegrate it as being just as redneck and intolerant as (insert white-bread hick town here) they’re wrong. Canberra isn’t a tolerant Utopia cleansed of bigotry, but generally (and I mean as a function of all the people here – post-modernist, bleeding-heart intelligensia to bigoted rednecks) we’re pretty damn open-minded.

Counter my arguement and stop nit-picking.

Hey bulldog – good looking people deserve our worship. They are our social betters.

I’m not saying it should be “queer-only”. However, I think that’s how it will be perveived no matter what you call it.

When did I say some people deserve “special treatment”? I couldn’t disagree more. Although, I think I deserve special treatment for my propensity towards malinquent (is that a word?) diatribes.

Okay, in summary:

Queer-Only: Bad
Queer-Friendly: Okay, but problematic.

Am I starting to come across as Mr-“I’m not homophobic, but…”

“Wayne-o the slope-foreheaded rugby moron from Wagga” will be offended by that label…the poor redneck card is always used to liven the debate about sexuality and rights. I hope that Mr Shab you’ve travelled further afield in this town than the inner bowl, because alluding to it being a ‘free-thinking and open-minded Canberra’ is a bit niave.

Absent Diane1:47 pm 17 Feb 06

Fags do need somewhere to go… I know for a fact that they are still marginalised in pre-tertiary schools and by the age of going to uni they are probably gonna need somewhere to go help them deal with shit.. its pretty bloody obvious to me… in saying this it should be acceptable to the friends of fags to come and hang out in this room as well…. it should just be barred from anyone who is going to be an asshole

Shab – the difference being that by making ‘queer only’ your “Wayne-oh” types will have yet more ammunition in their arsenal of fuckwittery. By saying Queer friendly Wayne-oh will have no leg to stand on when he complains about perceived ‘special treatment’ because he will be told that there isnothing stopping him going into that same area, however he willhave to abide by certain rules.

Wayne-oh won’t go into the room, but he will NOT feel marginalised by a a group of people he already does not understand. And I’m sure we all know how dangerous an confused idiot can be.

Yes, a conundrum and I would have to agree with you that the queer community needs to take a long term outlook about this proposal. However I won’t agree with you that certain people require special treatment based on their gender, sexual preference, colour, height, propensity towards magniliquent diatribes or just plain good lookingness.

Bonfire – No, it doesn’t go against my arguement. I’m not so sure a “queer room” is such a great idea; but I can sure as hell see why people want one. I’m not against it because it’s special treatment (which seems to be one of your lines of arguement) but (I agree with you) in thinking it will go against the greater aim of the acceptance of homosexuality by highlighting points of difference rather than commonality.

Bulldog – a “queer-friendly” room would be great…if it worked. I may be well wide of the mark, but the room will never serve the aims of improving acceptance of the queer community because it will be perceived by the people you need to win over as “queer-ONLY”.

I’m happy to step into a “queer-friendly” environment, but any advocates of queer rights preaching to me are preaching to the choir. I don’t need convincing.

Wayne-o the slope-foreheaded rugby moron from Wagga is the person who needs winning over. He’s not going to be seen dead in a “queer-friendly” room (unless he thinks it might be an opportunity to see two girls getting it on). It’s going to be a slow process showing him that queer people are just part of life’s rich tapestry, and not really so different from him.

A “queer-friendly” room isn’t part of that approach. He’ll just view it as “special treatment”.

A queer-friendly rooms is fine for the queer community, and their close friends; but it won’t help them in the long run. I’d argue it would be harmful to their overall cause. That’s why I argue that the queer community need to think very hard about what they want to achieve with this room. Do they accept that you just can’t reach some people, or do they take the high road for full acceptance?

Shab – yes it is a conundrum, but exclusionary practices do not bring about acceptance. If it’s ‘queer only’ than it is exclusionary; just as it would be if it were ‘black only’. It’s not saying that blacks or gays bear any particular animosity toward whites or heteros, but it is saying that they aren’t welcome in that space. Is that the path to aceptance?

IMHO a promoted queer-friendly policy in certain areas would be a better way to teach the homophobic and mentally challenged folks that gays are regular people and should be treated accordingly. But that’sjust me, I have never had to suffer the slings and arrows directed at the queer community. I’m prepared to admit that I might be wrong about the requirement for the space; but the segregation of ANY areas based upon ANY differences seems just plain wrong.

i agree.

so why do you want to marginalise and segregate homosexuals ?

it goes completely against your stated aims.

Bonfire – I’m assuming that was whimsy.

I can see why the GLBT community wants a room. They want somewhere to go to get away from the “straight world”.

Two boys/girls walking along hand in hand elicits more than a few looks (benign and otherwise), even in notoriously free-thinking and open-minded Canberra. In that situation, I’d feel a bit self-concious, and probably a tad uncomfortable. After a while you’d want to get away from that too.

I know a friend and his partner who don’t hold hands in public because of the attention they receive. Not because it’s hostile, just because when hand-in-hand they lose their anominity in a crowd.

Till a gay couple doesn’t make anyone so much as bat an eyelid, there will be a perceived need for a “queer-only” space. But in order to arrive at that situation, everyone needs to accept them to the point of considering homosexuality utterly unremarkable, and thus not requiring their own “queer” space.

A conundrum, no.

the question i have is – why do homosexuals want to be marginalised and segregated ?

Jey – I’m not sure your arguement really works. A queer room is for queer people. The very label is instructive. As much as you might like it to be a place for everyone to come together and be terribly non-judgemental and accepting about everyone’s foibles, that’s not how it will end up working.

I’m sure it would be started with the absolute best of intentions, and (for a while) might even work in the way you’ve described; but sooner or later, it will end up being hijacked by the more militant elements of the queer movement.

Again I harken back to the Rapunzel Room at ANU. I left ANU a few years ago, so my information may not be current. I’d be happy to be proved wrong. I’ve heard that it was started with much the same aim…to be a safe place for women to go (where men were welcome) and they could feel safe and supported; where relevant women’s issues could be discussed in a non-judgemental environment. I’m sure it was even like that for a while.

Eventually, it was hijacked by the more radical elements of student feminism. Men were made to feel unwelcome, then explicitly excluded. The crowd hanging out there became homogenous, as moderate elements were excluded. The room lost its utility and original purpose. Men were no longer a group to be talked around to feminism – they were the enemy to be crushed. It became a focus of the neanderthal “men’s movement” (for want of a better description) as evidence of the poor dears being marginalised by “dykes and femmo’s”.

Now, that said, the Rapunzel Room is not something I really ever gave much thought to. It was just something I walked past on the way to a Chem lecture. But I ran into more than a few men who thought it was a travesty. “Where’s the bloody men’s room?”, they would cry. “There’s more women on campus than men. We’re the marginalised ones!”

Okay – the GLBT community on campus isn’t going to outnumber the hetero community any time soon, but can’t you see the same thing happening with a queer room? There are elements of the queer movement who are ambivalent at best to heteros. Can’t you see rednecks using a queer room as a rallying point around which to decry the hegemony of “them dirty little fudge-packers”.

Like I said, I’d be happy to see a queer room on campus; but I think the queer community needs to consider the possible rammifications more carefully.

I feel you knocking warrior reborn – but as Indi alludes to – why not call it and promote it as a ‘queer friendly’ space as opposed to ‘queer only’.

And as for harassment, well nobody deserves to cop that sort of sh!t – but just because you’re gay does not mean that you cop more shit than anyone else – be it based on race, physical attributes, fashion sense etc etc. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’m yet to see anything stating that it affects the homosexual community any more (or less), than any other demographic.

And Jay – by your logic the rest of the the world is implicitly ‘white’ and ‘christian’ because it is portrayed as the majority? I would disagree and I think most (granted not all) people are well informed and cultured enough NOT to stare when they see two people of the same sex holding hands.

Ari swoops the pool again.

BT, the idea is that the queers are getting yelled at so they are the one who need an escape. I’m seeing this room being about bringing queer issues, interaction and socialising up in a positive and supportive envrionment, but including EVRYONE into the discourse.

I doubt the chess club would be a suitable conduit, there’s a rule in chess saying only one queen is allowed.

barking toad11:41 am 17 Feb 06

And, following on from doggie’s comments, I’m sure those inclined to be queer could arrange to have a room set aside at times for meetings/pick-ups or whatever the fuck they want by going through usual channels at the campus. Like, say, the chess club or whatever.

What the protesting and placarding does is promote a difference – “hey, look at me, I’m gay and you’re not” – and then all of a sudden the gays are marginalised and treated differently.

Who cares if you’re gay – just stop fucking yelling at me about it

Having a queer only room is not ‘reverse discrimination’ because the rest of the world is implicitly ‘straight space’ where the imagery and behaviour that reaffirm heterosexuality are dominant, nobody looks twice at a straight couple holding hands.

A Queer Space is not separatist but a constructive way of dealing with heterosexism (the belief that it’s somehow more normal to be heterosexual) and homophobia that queers face every day of their lives.

It’s a place that fundamentally aims to be free of discrimination on the basis of race, (dis)ability, age, class and anything else. It aims to be free of the sexism that is disturbingly pervasive in the queer community as it is in the wider society.

Well said warrior_reborn – I’d say the simplest solution may well be just to have a ‘safe space’ without any particular label. Of course it should be promoted as a place to chill out for anyone not comfortable with other social meeting points on campus…that’s my two bobs worth.

warrior_reborn11:07 am 17 Feb 06

I have been listening to all the debates and reading all the posts and have agreed with most of what people have said on both sides of the argument. I signed the petition for a queer space at UC because I feel it could be a place of support and education for the entire community. I think it needs to be dealt with appropriately in that it should offer support and education for “everyone”. I think it is important that it be a space where “gays”, “straights” and “the in betweens” alike can come together in a safe environment and communicate. I don’t think it should be solely for the GLBT community as I agree that this has negative connotations. I am a lesbian, but my sister is not, and I know that I would love her to be able to come with her friends and hang out with my friends (which include other gays) in a place that is comfortable for everyone.

There have always been places in our community for different religious, racial and gender groups. I don’t necessarily think that it is a bad thing, but I agree that it shouldn’t discriminate against others; therefore it should be a welcoming and friendly place of acceptance and education.

I myself feel confident to go to the bar and hang out with my girlfriend, because we don’t look like the typical “gay” girls, and so therefore have not experienced the level of discrimination and harassment that others in the community have experienced. However, in saying that, I do know that having a space where I can to for help, support, information or just a chat shouldn’t be taken away from me because some people think we should all be treated equally… because in reality that doesn’t happen. If you are straight, next time you are out with your girlfriend/boyfriend count the amount of times some horny drunk person asks you for a threesome! It’s not fair, but it is reality, and we deal with just like everyone else. I have never once complained … but sometimes we just need a little space!

genderfuckbel –

“binding strangers together on s ingle thread of commonality” – Perhaps

ostracizing themsleves from the community and potentialy creating divisions amongst the community – that may in fact “go past univeristy and into your work life” – most likely.

Just as some homosexuals may feel uncomfortable expressing themselves around the hetero crowd – there are lots of heteros who aren’t comfortable being themselves amongst the queer folks.

The red-necks have as much right to organise a ‘queer-free space’ as the queers do to tee up a ‘queer-only space’. Don’t give me the standard party line about being victimised by the community, parents, families etc – everyone has been and contiues to be marginalised for all sorts of reasons. Do you see the migrants opening up “wog-only room’ where they can connect and bitch about being treated like criminals and how society’s perception means that they are labelled and judged? Sound familiar? Get over yourself – you’re not the only one with problems.

The homosexual community feels they are treated differently? This may have nothing to do with sexual preference and more to do with the fact that the community can be very exclusionary.

I don’t speak for anyone else and this only my opinion, but I for one am sick of being branded a ‘redneck’ because I don’t think people should be treated differently just becasue they’re over-opinionated prats – being homosexual in this case is incidental.

I accept that GFB, and I’ve got no prob with a queer room. But I’m not the type of person the queer community needs to find acceptance with.

I’m just talking on a higher level than immediate needs or desires of the community. Does a queer room help to foster acceptance for the queer community on campus, or does it just inspire more ill-informed comments like “Why don’t the hetros get a room too?”

When you’re looking for acceptance, sometimes you’ve gotta meet people halfway; even if you thing they are wrong. Otherwise you’re just further polarised into “small-minded, bigoted dweebs” vs “butch-dykes and poo-pushers”.

Chrisinthecapital10:11 pm 16 Feb 06

Yes, but you wouldn’t get chucked out if you used their room.

genderfuckbel8:55 pm 16 Feb 06

think of a queer space as a family unit.

to replace the lack of support and understanding seen and unseen from biological family, work, uni…

Think. before u speak. in disin queer spaces.
my network of queers sexuality and genderbenders are a family that stretches outs and supports me in ways my own family will never be able too. in continues past uni and in to my work life.

A queer space is more than just a room. its space to breath, connect, argue and share. Binding strangers (race, age, religion, background and sports) together on a single thread of commonalty.

trying to find a decent definition for genderqueer
‘questioning’ is ppl who are unsure about their sexuality and gender.
Genderqueer – An individual whose gender identification does not reflect the socially accepted polarized gender system.

as expected there’s a wikipedia entry
might be crap, can’t be bothered reading it

No. I’ve been in the Queer Space at ANU many times, and I haven’t picked up in there once!

do these places end up being used as pick up joints on other campuses?

T_Bone is on the right track – sorta.

Having a queer student’s room is all well and good, but it just further marginalises the queer community by making them appear more cliquey and implicitly hostile and defensive towards hetros.

What I mean is that the room is bound to be seen as a citadel for queer students where hetros will be unwelcome (in much the same way, rightly or wrongly, the ANU’s Rapunzel (womens’) Room is viewed by a large number of male students). For example – I can’t see the room welcoming a group of Christian students wanting to debate the moral issues surrounding homosexuality, or even a person with no strong views on the topic to ask “So, what’s with the whole gay thing?”

I don’t have a problem with them having their own space (I can’t see it doing any harm to the rest of the uni community), but I don’t think it’s going to help their cause at all. A queer room isn’t a way of fostering respect for homosexuals, only suspicion.

Absent Diane12:23 pm 16 Feb 06

Unlike the Eradicate Chistians Nazi’s, the gay room would represent a group that isn’t illegal and not inherently wrong.
Inherently wrong is debatable… but I will let it slide… anyway I have far too many hobbies as is to have the time to shave my head and start burning down churches..
You also don’t have to feign fagness, you’ll note there is a provision there for straight people
just giving people options….!! 🙂

Isn’t the goal to have queer people treated equally and have the same rights as the rest of the hetero community? Best give the queer uni students their own special room then.

Wouldn’t it be better to spend the time in the broader uni community, working on ways to educate the haters and approaching ways to deal with anti-queer behaviour.

A queer only space just looks like the queer students want special treatment. In my opinion it seemes to compete with the goal of being treated equally.

Unlike the Eradicate Chistians Nazi’s, the gay room would represent a group that isn’t illegal and not inherently wrong.

You also don’t have to feign fagness, you’ll note there is a provision there for straight people.

pardon the ignorance but what are genderqueer and questioning students?

Absent Diane11:18 am 16 Feb 06

I guess if people really want access to this free room they can feign fagness (meant with the upmost respect)… in the end it doesn’t really matter… and has no real affect on anything…..
but then on the other hand Im sure that if asked for a free room for the Eradicate Christian Nazi’s (and other violent imaginary belief systems) then I would be completely ignored…

What’s the need for a queer space? I hear there’s a perfectly good bar called the Phoenix where Johnboy and his “homo mates” hang out.

Discriminated even!

Homosexuals get a free room and heteros don’t because heteros aren’t discrimated on for being hetero. Homosexuals get the injustice, so they need a place to get some support.

Just like women got a lot of injustice, so they need support to compensate for that.

It isn’t rocket science.

Classic downwards envy – “oh my god, someone else is getting (well, asking for) special treatment (a room – unis are full of them) and I’m not getting special treatment therefore I’m going to bleat and bellow and whinge about it”.

How precisely does it affect you whether a room is provided or not. If we indeed did live in a world that was 100% tolerant and accepting of difference, sure it might be asking more than is necessary but if these people genuinely feel a need for a private space maybe that’s more a reflection of the fact that the Howard Youth are a bunch of selfish, bigoted redneck fucks. (IMHO)

As for objections to womens refuges – again, maybe some women know what they want at times of trouble and/or in the face of abuse.

Where the money comes from is a question I guess – presumably this isn’t something that’ll come from student unions anymore and I’d be just as supportive of the uni footy club’s right to ask for a clubhouse (which presumably wouldn’t be occupied by people not there to play footy – as divisive as this may seem)

Yes, I believe the national Queer Affairs Officer is an NUS appointment. Apparently there’s two and at least on has to be female.

(I’m told she’s going to be up on the hill watching the RU486 vote today if anyone wants to meet her)

I don’t know about UC, but the uni I attended had a student union body which was able to provide rooms on campus for a whole range of clubs/activities. Fortunately, this was one of the few unis in oz which had had decades of student union membership and was able to sustain vital student services even after state-bases VSU was introduced.

This demand is no different to the range of clubs on campus which care enough to demand and get their own space. UC will probably come around soon – keep up the good work.

here’s a sheep molestation link I prepared earlier….


Might have to cut n’ paste it as I am a bit of techno-tard.

barking toad9:44 am 16 Feb 06

Oh, ffs this is just another example of “I’m gay and I demand your attention because of it”.

Tell someone who cares because I couldn’t give a flying – and I sodomise sheep (Warning : sheep fucking is illegal)

It’s a development of the standard university continuum of “women’s rooms”, which are in turn developments of the “women’s refuge” system in general society.

No, neither of them are particularly things I agree with (there are many things that should be done to help a woman in a domestic violence situation, but putting her in an environment where an entire gender is seen as the enemy is not one of them), but this is where this stuff is coming from.

That and, since universities have seen a proliferation of sexuality officers, they need something to do, and organising dance parties make them feel shallow.

but Davith is the only gay in the village, you can’t be an gay

national Queer Affairs Officer Rachel Evans

I take it that’s an NUS appointment?

Seems to have very little to do with equality – can the hetero’s have a “queer-free zone”? No, that would be seen as discrimination. IMHO this is a huge load of crap – I understand that there are various issues here, but segregation is not the answer.

If they want a space, then let them pay for it!

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.