The life of a young queer person can be a difficult one. Our experiences can be good, bad, trying and liberating. Yet regardless of where you have come from or what you wish to find in your University journey, the University of Sydney queer community will welcome you with open arms, open hearts, and unicorns.
Our campus is home to a large and diverse queer community, containing numerous groups dedicated to making our campus shine with rainbows, activism, queer comedy and the occasional party. “Queer” is an umbrella term that encompasses a great many gender, sexual and similar identities that are not ‘straight’. Whether you are trans*, intersex, gay, lesbian, bi, pan, asexual, curious, questioning, or something else entirely, we welcome you to the proud and fiery queer community here at the University of Sydney! Here’s a very quick rundown of some basic elements of our community.
The Queer Action Collective (QuAC)
A collective is a non-hierarchical meeting and organising space. QuAC is an autonomous collective, meaning that any student who identifies as queer is welcome. Ours is a community in which we actively organise and fight against forces of oppression, all the while offering support, friendship and resources to one another. What we do, and the methods that we use, are determined collectively. Every member is encouraged to share responsibilities and to contribute their perspectives, ideas, and skills. Our first regular meeting of 2014 will be in week 1 in the Queer Space.
QuAC in 2013
In 2013, members of QuAC organised around issues facing queer refugees, police violence against queers, marriage equality, and other like issues. We organised a Mardi Gras float. We undertook a campaign, still ongoing, fighting for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. We ran #DIYrainbow projects, games nights, ‘Queer Beers’, workshops and more. We engaged in the University of Sydney Union’s (USU) Queer Ball and helped organise USU Pride Week. We edited an edition of Honi Soit, the SRC paper, and fought for a more inclusive SRC. In July, members of QuAC and the queer community on campus helped organise the national annual conference of queer students, Queer Collaborations.
The Queer Officers
Consistent with QuAC’s autonomy, the Queer Officers are preselected by the collective in Semester 2 and endorsed by the SRC at QuAC’s direction. In the collective, the officers are no different to any other member. They do have certain duties as SRC office bearers, such as writing reports and administering the budget given to QuAC by the SRC. However, these duties are carried out in accordance with the directions given to the officers by the collective. This year, the queer officers are Elsa Kohane, David Shakes, Holly Parrington, and Edward McMahon.
The Queer Space
This is an autonomous room provided by the University of Sydney Union, which is available to any queer identifying student. It is a ‘safer space’, meaning that no tolerance is given to oppressive behaviour. It is a space where you can study, read, hang out, make friends, access materials, twirl, nap, and so on. It is also where QuAC meets on a regular basis. The Queer Space has moved to a temporary location as the Holme building undergoes redevelopment, but we’ll be Ho(l)me soon!
The University of Sydney Union (USU) is a corporate association dedicated to student life. It has a number of queer and queer-friendly clubs and societies. This includes SHADES, a queer party and social organisation, and Queer Revue Society, which is responsible for the production of Queer Revue for Semester 2 of each year. The USU also has two Queer Coordinators, who are responsible for developing and administering the USU’s queer programs. Additionally, the Sydney University Postgraduate Students Association (SUPRA) has a queer department, similar to that of the SRC.
QuAC in 2014
2014 will see the continuation of the collective’s long history of activist struggle, together with renewed visions for inclusivity and social engagement. A new autonomous non-cis male group has recently started up, and other autonomous queer groups (queer people of colour, trans*) are hopefully soon to follow. It is the collective and its members that decide what direction to take. Some recent suggestions have included more social events (think picnics, movie nights, etc), workshops, activist skill shares, a dedicated on-campus campaign, as well as ongoing activist projects.
If you would like further information, or simply want to discuss something, the Queer Officers would love to hear from you. We can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, you can friend any of the queer officers or ‘Diversity Duck’ on Facebook to be added to the secret QuAC group, or you can “like” us on Facebook: “Usyd SRC Queer Department” and send us a message.
We hope to see you around in 2014!