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Congratulations to the SU for organising a successful Pride Week, many of us who attended learned new things and engaged with members of LSE’s LGBT+ community who we probably wouldn’t have met; for that I am thankful. Personally, I was enthralled by the trans* event, I was introduced to a part of the community which I have never engaged with to such a degree. I left the event feeling as though I had genuinely been enlightened, which is a rarity nowadays.
It is because of the success of Pride Week for the people who it engaged with that I am disappointed more did not have the opportunities some enjoyed. Having attended most of the events, by and large they were attended by more or less the same people with some additions and subtractions at varying events. There are 11,147 students at LSE, 2.5% of people in London identify as LGBT+; this suggests there could be as many as 278 LGBT+ students at LSE, using Kinsey’s theory (10% of the population) there could be over 1,000. There were not 278 people at any one of the events, nor were there 278 in cumulative attendance; of course not every LGBT+ student at LSE will engage with Pride Week, we are all studying at one of the most demanding places in the world. However, I do believe maximum student engagement, LGBT+ and otherwise should be an aspiration.
One measure to achieve maximum student engagement is to have events which cater to our diverse student community. The most well attended event I went to, was an event targeted at trans* students; thus targeted events could be the most successful way at engaging with the wonderfully diverse group of students at LSE. Of the events only one was targeted at a (gender)minority group and one was targeted at postgrads; there was no event about BME LGBT+ students, lesbian students, bisexual students, gay students, HIV and its latest discourse PREP or its topical transmitter Chemsex, which is popular in London; there was not even a simple event about sexual health. Adding salt to the wound, the event for LGBT+ students in sport was cancelled, a step in the wrong direction considering the lack of targeted events.
We should not be restricting more, but diversifying more; an event targeted simply at LGBT+ students within sport would have attracted many if not all LGBT+ sportspeople, an AU targeted event would attract those same students and their team/club mates. The AU Pride night was and still could be the most effective means the SU has, at present of engaging with as many students as possible during Pride week. Surely the SU is not going in a direction where it is left it to clubs, with an LGBT+ minority to organise their own events! If this is a serious stance, we need to review the need for Pride week. All the non-LGBT+ clubs and societies will surely host their own events if the SU does not have Pride week. Progress has been made, but few would argue that we are at this point. We can all see that when the AU was left to recognise Pride Week on its own, it did not; not even the rowing club and there are at least eight LGBT+ rowers.
Frustrations regarding the hollowness of AU Pride night and its other issues are understandable. However, students within the AU must be considered, for us it was far more than Pride flags and face paint at Saucy. With the absence of an official LGBT+ AU event, our representation within Pride Week has been lost; despite the fact most of the media used by the SU to promote Pride Week was of LGBT+ olympians, which is interesting paradox. The simultaneous absence of both BME and AU events left me personally with no representation at all. This is the London School of Economics and Political Science, if I am not represented here, then I am represented nowhere. We study by the motto ‘Rerum cognoscere causas’ yet so many of us are not seeking to know the causes of things, but conceding defeat to the unknown causes of things, to causes like ‘a lack of interest’ or ‘it put people off’ and ‘least well attended themed night’, the question which springs to mind is ‘why?’; what would our tutors say! We must understand why things are not as successful as we would like them to be, then enact the changes we want to see. The causes of AU Pride night’s cancellation can be changed, and they are certainly no reasons not to celebrate LGBT+ students within the AU.
Yes, the AU clubs could have done more to celebrate their LGBT+ members, but people are people, we forget things which do not apply to us. This is why we have Pride Week, so those who will not forget can celebrate and be heard in the hope that others will not forget in the future. We can all be guilty of being forgetful, indeed there was not even an email from the Pride: GSD Alliance to its members publicising Pride Week. People have not forgotten about the AU Pride night, it was once the only event of its kind in the country; we realise what we have lost. This is why we want to work with the SU towards a future AU Pride event which after a wonderful year for LGBT+ sport, should be the biggest and most successful AU pride event there has ever been. We should all be working towards a much wider range of pride events in the future, sometimes we just need a push. *push*
Albie Amankona, Disgruntled LGBT+ Sportspeople and allies