Spotlight on LGBT+ society

Jordan interviews members of the LGBT+ society to ask some questions for our students.

LGBT+ society is one of the most active societies on campus, as well as one of the most welcoming. I had a chat with President Caroline Byrne, Secretary Felix Johnson and Transgender & Non-binary Represenative Amber Onver to find out what they’re up to this term.

So, why should people join LGBT+ Society? 

C: LGBT+ society is a great inclusive space for all, but especially for LGBTQ+ students.  Lockdown forced many students to go home to families and environments that might not be accepting of their identity. That’s where we come in: we are an inclusive space for all LGBTQ+ people on campus to help them find and learn about their community.

A: It’s more important than ever that we stand together and make sure that our voices are heard, and it’s just as important that we have space to enjoy existing in our identities together. As for non-LGBT students: we cannot exist without your contributions and without your solidarity.

F: As a society member, you get to support all of the work that we do. Although we endeavour to run events for the good of the RHUL community, we can’t do that without members’ financial support. 

How has your university experience been so far? Has being part of the society helped you?

C: Personally, I’ve had a great experience. Growing up gay in small town America was really hard. I was questioning my gender and sexuality, and I didn’t have the environment to experiment. At RHUL, I found a great group of friends, who were all LGBTQ+ themselves and super accommodating of my pronouns (they/them) when I came out as nonbinary. I was happy to finally have found my people. My professors have also been very accommodating with my pronouns as well!

A: While I’ve enjoyed many aspects of it, I’ve found that as students our ability to organise and determine our future is continually undermined. However, I’ve found that LGBT society is a strong group committed to providing a service and environment for LGBT students during a tumultuous time where our rights are increasingly pulled into peril.

F: From collaborating with the SU on Rainbow Rave club nights, to raising awareness of different community causes, LGBT+ society has been really helpful to myself and many of my friends.

What sort of events will you be running this term?

F: Although this is far from a normal term, we will be endeavouring to put on as full a calendar as possible with both online and in-person events! I am personally most excited about our recurring Clothes Swap events run by Amber, to give trans and non-binary students access to gender-affirming clothing without breaking the bank.

A: Yes I’ll be running more events to benefit trans and NB students in a more active manner, including the clothes swap on an at least monthly basis. There will also be a freshers’ discussion group. As we face unique challenges as Trans and NB students, we have to act together to come up with unique methods of overcoming them.

C: I’m most looking forward to our upcoming craft nights; in our first one, we’re making DIY pronoun badges! We’ll also be collaborating with societies and departments across campus to show all the different intersections of LGBTQ+ life. Look out for our LGBTQ+ reading group!

Any advice on being a good ally?

A: Contribute towards keeping LGBT spaces open and running, and make sure that any sort of action or thought you participate in is intersectional; taking into account religious, racial and economic ramifications in addition to sexual and gender considerations. We’re so much stronger united.

F: It’s important to amplify LGBT+ voices. Listen to your LGBT+ friends and take on board what they have to say. Make sure you’re using the correct names and pronouns for everyone – don’t be afraid to ask, it’s unlikely to offend any LGBT+ people!

C: Stand in solidarity with your LGBTQ+ friends and family. Fighting for our rights didn’t end with marriage equality. Also take time to learn LGBTQ+ inclusive language and culture. There’s more to being LGBTQ+ than just “YAASS Queen” and pride parades — while there is plenty of that too!

Do you have any advice for LGBT+ people who haven’t come out yet, but still want to be part of the society? 

C: Anyone is welcome to our events as long as you’re nice and accepting! We have plenty of straight ally members, so being ‘out’ is not a requirement for membership. If you haven’t come out or have recently come out and had difficulty finding gay-friendly space, come along! At the end of the day, you’ll find an inclusive place to just be yourself.

A: We want to foster an open and welcoming environment for all our students. As for confidentiality, we won’t disclose anyone’s personal information if they aren’t comfortable with it, ask before taking photos and ensure that participants are protected. 

F: Our events are open to everyone, LGBT+ or cisgender/heterosexual! People are more than welcome to email or message us in advance of events to confirm that they will be welcome and catered for.

To get involved with LGBT+ society, check out their events, social media platforms, and get in touch if you have any questions or ideas.

Keep up to date with LGBT+ society:

Facebook: @RoyalHollowayLGBT

Twitter: @LGBTRHUL

Instagram: @rhul_lgbt

Jordan Thorne