There’s more to queer rights than Mardi Gras.

Elsa Kohane, Ed McMahon, Holly Parrington and David Shakes

If you identify as queer – that is, anything  other than “straight” – you may wish to join one of the oldest, most active queer organisations on campus, the Queer Action Collective (QuAC). This collective is a radical community, dedicated to fighting queer oppression at uni and beyond, as well as being an autonomous, anonymous and welcoming social environment and network for queer students.

The collective aims to be a safer accessible space for all queers on campus. We seek to actively challenge queerphobic, sexist, racist and similar attitudes and behaviours within our collective and beyond. The queerspace – a room just for queer students located in the Holme building – is a place to organise, meet, and for members to use however else they choose. Meetings are held here twice a week-  a general meeting at 1pm on Tuesday and an autonomous (that means exclusive) meeting for non cis male identifying queer people at 1pm on Thursday.

Something members of QuAC have been working on, along with other students from universities all over NSW, is a float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade. The theme of the float is “More Than Marriage”, which is in many ways a great representation of the collective.

The Queer rights movement has been recently dominated by a rights-based assimilationist agenda, where equality is sought on the grounds of sameness. Asserting the ‘normality’ of being queer denies what we should truly seek – autonomy and power in difference. While most people now agree that so long as the institution of marriage is available to heteronormative relationships, access to the institution should be granted to non-straight relationships, there are many other important causes within the queer movement that don’t receive anywhere near the amount of attention that “marriage equality” does. They are issues of life and death – things like queer poverty, mental health, and asylum seeking. Yet they do not get as much airtime because they are not promoted by the “pink dollar” and the cis, white, gay men who primarily control it.

The Mardi Gras float aims to show the world that queer students are fighting for more than just marriage equality, and that society should too. The float will promote issues such as transgender rights (“combating the
cis-tem”), protest the fascist immigration policies of the state that operate particularly harshly on queer asylum seekers, protest police violence and brutality against queers (which has specific relevance to Mardi Gras), and advocate for the introduction of queer sexual education in schools. If you’re interested in coming on the float, go here: http://goo.gl/z8M8Xy .

There is plenty more than Mardi Gras happening the first few weeks of semester. To find out more, such as how to find the queerspace, find our stall at O Week, find an officer on Facebook (the Queer Officers for 2014 are Elsa Kohane, Edward McMahon, Holly Parrington and David Shakes), or contact us at queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au. We hope to see you at the meetings in Week 1!

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