By Anya Fraser
3 Reasons Why LGBT societies are important
1. Bringing people together
For many people University is the time for growth and self-realization, and that may include coming out. While straight allies can help support their queer friend, nothing can substitute making connections with other LGBT folks. With mental health issues, such as addiction, disproportionately impacting queer people, a robust network is vital. Meeting up for a cup of tea or a night on the town can make all the difference.
2. Developing Culture
Despite what some would believe, drag doesn’t start and end with RuPaul. Queens come up through their local club, working non-stop to develop their art and earn some coin. Gay clubs are a cornerstone of queer culture, and many are sustained throughout the week by students. Clubbing for a cause? Count me in.
3. Promoting Activism
The only reason we can enjoy pride events and dance covered in glitter until the wee hours of the morning is because of our forbearers, risking their lives for the right to be free. We stand on the shoulders of giants, like Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour who was on the frontline of the Stonewall riots.
Queer people gathering together is still an act of resilience. Even in the UK, which is comparatively progressive, LGBT+ people face violence and discrimination on a daily basis. There’s still a long way to go, and nothing will change without active resistance.
The truth is LGTB+ societies aren’t always happy, smiling, inclusive places, like any other large organizational groups they have sandals, cliques and in-fighting. It makes sense really, get any group of people together, add some money and strong personalities and there’s going to be some trouble. There were times when it felt being involved in the LGBT society was more hassle than it was worth.
Yet, I write this blog not to suggest avoiding your LGBT+ societies at all costs, in fact quite the opposite. Attend events, make friends, educate yourself on the diversity of experiences that fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella. Just be warned, it might not always be easy. You might go to an event alone and find that everyone else already knows each other, it may take some courage and a willingness to put yourself out there to find people you click with.
At my first ever LGBT drinks, I met a group of American exchange students whom I became good friends with during their time in the UK. The first conversation we had resulted from me hanging around awkwardly until I mustered the courage to walk up to them and introduce myself. Thankfully, once you’ve done something once it becomes infinitely less scary, and after that I made a point of chatting to people who looked as lost as I did that first night. LGBT societies do a good job of getting everyone in the same room and putting a drink in their hand, it’s then up to you to take the first step.
As a very isolated and quiet pride month comes to a close - thanks covid! It’s more important than ever to find your community; the people who understand your point of view, or at least are willing to listen to you with an open-mind. I met some amazing people and had wonderful experiences during my time at University, and many of those were because of the LGBT society. So, if you're thinking of getting involved, but aren’t sure if you’ll fit in, just go. I guarantee there will be someone else feeling the same way as you.