LGBT uproar over offensive article

Photo: Jason Lozier

Photo: Jason Lozier

There has been outrage this week amongst the student community over a comment piece featured in last week’s York Vision stating that “the concept of LGBT is ridiculous, ludicrous and completely pointless.”

The LGBT Committee have stated their concern over the “misinformed” opinions voiced in the article, which questioned the role of the LGBT community within the University of York as it was said that “equality has been achieved.”

In an LGBT Committee meeting held to discuss the issues raised by the article in question, Peter Warner-Medley, YUSU LGBT Officer, stated: “I understand that Jack Knight does not really know the role of the LGBT Officer, but I think it’s a terrible shame that he has singled out for criticism a community whose welcome has reassured those scared or unsure; whose friendship has made the University experience tolerable for some and whose work is vital for those for whom equality has not yet been achieved.”

He continued to comment: “This gives us a great chance to explain why we exist and correct the factual inaccuracies. We want to deal with this as a community, with an explanation rather than just reactionary personal criticism.”

The LGBT Committee are going to write a letter to Vision in order to address what they see as the negative impact of the comment piece, getting Sabbatical Officers and general students to sign it to show the widespread support. The letter intends to emphasise the importance of the LGBT community to those students who are involved and criticise the way Knight’s piece “trivialised sexuality in comparison to music and diet tastes.”

Talking to Nouse, many students expressed their own personal anger and offence taken at the piece. William Smith, the Trans representative for the LGBT Committee, stated: “As a heterosexual trans man, I found the inaccuracies he [Knight] was basing his opinions on very insulting. I have many personal stories that prove LGBT equality is far from being achieved. It is important, however, not to overreact and just ensure people are getting the right message. ”

Mike Davies, a first -year student, took a similar view: “I was initially very angry – it is an insane stretch to say we have won the battle. It is just ignorance.”

In response to the complaints made against the comment article, Jack Knight, who originally wrote the piece, defended his position to Nouse: “It wasn’t even personal. I believe it was a fair criticism and I had no personal agenda against anyone in particular. It was not my intention to offend.”

This comes after recent controversy involving Women’s Officers following the recent YUSU elections, which has sparked debate over the existance of the position.

14 comments

  1. Nouse, this time you’ve gone too far. Week in, week out, we get non-stories, but this is disgraceful. You have based a news story and a comment piece in the same issue on the perceived fallout from a comment piece by your rival newspaper. Slow week was it? Too busy putting your ultimately inconsequential fashion supplement together and having a champagne reception to find some real news? You should know better, but you’ve gone for plain sensationalism and a cheap shot at Vision. What’s more, it wasn’t even an editorial, but the view of one of its writers. That’s why it’s called ‘Comment’. You would think he had gone and assaulted someone by the way you’ve reacted. Maybe it was uninformed, but it doesn’t require this kind of vitriol to sort it out. Why couldn’t the LGBT Officer have offered to discuss the matter with the writer in question?

    As a side note, could somebody explain to me what ‘heterosexual trans man’ means?

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  2. Well perhaps since all of your comments on Nouse are negative and account for pretty much 3/4 of all negative comments, either to Nouse or other people, it is you who has gone to far. Get some therapy, seriously.

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  3. No response to my argument? Prove me wrong, maybe I’ll stop being so negative.

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  4. Dear Incredulous,

    Whilst I know that this will end up in a backlash against myself, I feel it necessary to point out that, for several days after the comment piece, a large number of people I talked to (and virtually every LGBT supporter that I know) were annoyed with, and discussed, the naivety of the piece and how wrong the individual month.

    Most ironically, perhaps, is the fact that the individual expressed a belief that “equality has been achieved” at the same time that several people were trying to get a large number of people to sign a petition to stop Uganda from executing people for being homosexual. Comparing it to diet or music taste would be appropriate if vegans were being killed in Cuba or classical music was outlawed in Kyrgyzstan – but it’s less so in this situation! I’m not attacking Vision or siding against the individual (though I do think that the blog was poorly timed and slightly naive) but I think that the backlash, especially during LGBT History Month, was worthy of note!

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  5. Incredulous: A trans man is (generally) someone who was considered by others to be female at birth, but identifies themselves as male. If they’ve begun to transition (or even beforehand), they’ll likely have a male name and pronouns, wear typically “male” clothing and generally interact with the world in a manner you’d consider to be male. Like any other man there’s massive scope as to what that might entail and mean to him personally. A heterosexual trans man, as with any other heterosexual man, is one who is predominantly attracted to females.

    Likewise, if you substitute appropriately in that explanation, you’ve got a rough definition of a trans woman :-)

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  6. In response to Incredulous:

    Firstly, the LGBT committee decided to invite Jack Knight to an event, so in fact by extension the LGBT officer has offered to discuss the matter with the writer. It also is not being sorted out via the “vitriol” in Nouse, it is simply that a Nouse reporter sat in on the meeting in which the committee decided how they would respond.

    As well as this, I take dispute with your phrase “perceived fallout.” It was not “perceived”, it was real. Many members of the LGBT committee and community were offended. It is newsworthy that a campus publication chose to run something that was offensive, just as it was news that Vanbrugh ran an event called “Porno” which caused offence. Even if the item in question was just a comment, it is still a comment read by many people across campus who potentially might agree or be persuaded by its offensive content, as a result it is significant.

    It also appears to me that whereas the article merely reports that Vision ran the comment, it is you who is taking a cheap shot at Nouse for running this one, after all it is you rather than this article that accuses a campus publication of”non-stories” and of being “inconsequential.” In this I agree with Ali.

    In answer to your question about what “heterosexual trans man” means, it means a trans man who is heterosexual. In over-simplified terms, by this I mean a trans person who is male and attracted to females.

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  7. Emma and J responded while I was typing. Take Emma’s definition please rather than mine.

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  8. anon.

    ‘In answer to your question about what “heterosexual trans man” means, it means a trans man who is heterosexual. In over-simplified terms, by this I mean a trans person who is male and attracted to females.’

    well done for having a go at defining ‘hetrosexual trans man’ even though you weren’t sure. never let it be said that joe public isn’t enthusiastic to help their fellow man.

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  9. Vision will not care if LGBT send them a letter of complaint, no matter how many people have signed it. What a waste of time, but oh wait- LGBT have nothing else to do with their time!

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  10. Laughing, have you ever actually been involved with LGBT at York? I’d be interested to know why you believe they do nothing useful with their time.

    It’s also worth pointing out that minority committees/organizations exist to push for changes that the rest of the population don’t care about – unless you highly concientious or LGBT, it is very likely that you won’t see the point in an LGBT committee. And it’s because you don’t see that point in one existing that one exists – because someone has got to fight their corner.

    For your information, YUSU LGBT is very busy. They’ve been working very closely with the university and the rest of YUSU to put in place equality and privacy provision for trans people in all areas of university life, they’ve run a number of highly successful awareness raising campaigns, they’ve petitioned on issues of life and death (literally) and had great success (and even if you don’t think there is any point to petitions, perhaps it is better that they are doing *something* than nothing) and they’ve put on a number of fantastic and very well attended events for their members. In fact, the LGBT Officers and YUSU LGBT Committee have not had a single week when something wasn’t happening or being very carefully planned. Frankly, they’ve been worked off their feet.

    But hey, maybe you don’t care. Just don’t pretend they don’t do anything.

    Oh, and for the record – it isn’t a letter of complaint. It is simply a polite clarification of the importance of liberation campaigns in YUSU.

    I’m pretty annoyed that Nouse was able to run this article – why were they invited to the committee meeting at which the committee decided on their response? Surely the committee should have had a private meeting to decide how they felt and then give a balanced, united reponse if they felt one was necessary? Nouse getting in on a meeting full of angry, hurt people doesn’t help anyone other than Nouse. It certainly doesn’t help the public perception of the LGBT Committee!

    On a final note – would have been nice if Jack had actually contacted the LGBT Committee and informed himself about what they do before writing a stupid, mindless and bigoted article. Maybe if he actually knew anything about YUSU LGBT and the LGBT Officers, he wouldn’t have felt the need to “have his say” about an issue he knew very little about.

    /rant

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  11. “Many members of the LGBT committee and community were offended. It is newsworthy that a campus publication chose to run something that was offensive”

    Maybe people should stop taking offense so easily. The student in question only expressed his opinion; and he did it in a polite, respectful and reasonable manner. You may disagree with that opinion as strongly as you like, and you have every right to express your own, but it’d be best if we leave ‘offense’ and cries for censorship out of this.

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  12. Speaking of Vision, nobody seems to care about (or be ‘offended’ by) the comment piece from a student who tried to dismiss all of climate science, which she described as some sort of a conspiracy.

    But then again, who cares about scientific illiteracy, ideological propaganda and the end of the world as we know it when we can just shout abuse at each other because of identity politics.

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  13. @Anonymouse

    I was not a fan of the comment piece myself and I did think it was a bit stupid. But, to be fair, Jack is bi himself and I think he was trying to point out that the LGBT society do not, in fact, really represent most LGBT people. I think it was clumsily written and so on, but I think the sentiment of what he was writing was purely political, not offensive.

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  14. Whilst I’m not questioning the validity of a society such as LGBT, I often wonder as to why some people join it.

    “A gay friendly association” implies only a select number are comfortable with homosexuality, and it is therefore neccessary for other gay people to come together based around that “common interest” – whilst I won’t deny homophobia exists, it certainly isn’t prevelant in most facets of life.

    I don’t see why people section themselves into a scene or society to express their sexuality, to enforce their sexuality through activities and meetings with people of the same sexuality. Being Gay is just a part of somebody, as is being straight, it doesn’t shape who the person is, or make any real impact upon their character.
    The interests of a gay person outside of relationships are the same as a straight person, so why be a part of an LGBT society? I’m sure it’s easy enough for a non-member to campaign about people in Uganda as it is for a member.

    For me it seems to highlight and create differences between gay people and straight people, rather than bring them together. It creates some sort of divide and categorization that need not exist.

    Stonewall started with a riot by people sick of being treated differently, and now it’s a parade of people trying to show that they’re different.

    For me, the best way for homosexuality to be fully accepted is to stop making such a big deal about sexuality, it shouldn’t define a person, but societies for particular sexualities for me seem to create a definition.

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