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April 30, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Bent – ‘Hello’ From Your Queer Officer

Does the word ‘queer’ sound silly to you?

Well, it shouldn’t. Recently, I’ve found myself in all sorts of interesting conversations, having divulged what my new (and awesome) role with VUWSA is this year.

‘Queer, like weird?’ ‘Uh, well, why don’t we have a straight officer?’ ‘Ha! Is that really a thing?’ ‘Do you actually get paid for that?’

Yes, really. Ladies, gentlemen and variations thereof, please withhold your shock and awe. I am the VUWSA Queer Officer.

My role on campus is really quite a simple one. The portfolio falls under the equity provision in VUWSA’s aims. For the same reason that there is an International Officer and a Women’s Officer, Queer Officers exist throughout New Zealand universities to help ensure that the experience of tertiary education and the Uni environment is to an equal and exceptional standard for everyone. Language barriers, international fees, unawareness, sexism, homophobia and transphobia amidst factors too many to count entail that not everyone steps into university education on an even footing. We address inequalities and disadvantages, help create supportive, inclusive, like- minded communities and promote visibility and education.

Unsurprisingly, those who question the legitimacy of my position are also typically unacquainted with minority issues. These usually very charming white, intelligent, upper-middle class heterosexual gentlemen are merely expressing their well-meaning assumption that others share in their unwitting privilege, and are shocked to discover that not everyone belongs to their peachy insiders’ club.

Here’s a crash course: queer youth are still six times more likely to attempt suicide, phobic violence still occurs regularly in this very city and trans* and gay rights protections and legal entitlements are still far from equal. Prejudice against gay youth still wrecks families and the research combatting this misinformation is hardly substantial—the cocktail of generalisations and homophobia in the media certainly reflects this.

So, for those of you acquainted with my usually unfailingly bubbly writing style, the laws of the universe have seemingly been turned on their head. I’ll attempt to reset the balance with a few words of wisdom: Be nice to your gay mates, be open and understanding. It might mean more to them than they let on. Go read a blog or two about gay current events or sexuality issues. Remember, liberal straights are sexy straights. Finally, the issues that affect homos really do affect everyone. Equal rights, prejudice against alternative identities, rigid gender stereotypes, ignorance; issues such as these are never isolated to a single demographic. So get informed, get involved and most of all, get supportive.

And as for my queer officer-ship? I’m hardly going to cure the whole world of these evils overnight. But y’know, one can try.


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  1. Premises says:

    what about people with criminal records , where is their equal footing? How are people with convictions ever supposed to operate in society with blanket discriminatory practices throughout every sector. No wonder why recidivism rates are so high in this country.

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