The uninformed must not undermine the role of LGBT

While some may think otherwise, the value of LGBT to its constituents cannot be properly accounted for by being merged into welfare

by Charlotte Fairclough

by Charlotte Fairclough

I wonder if people ever think that the lack of discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people on campus is because of the good work of the LGBT society. Outside of this campus, people of the LGBT community are regularly discriminated against. Michael Causer, 18, was murdered in Liverpool in July of 2008 simply because he was homosexual. Gerry Edwards, 59, was stabbed to death in London at the beginning of this very month in an attack that police are deeming to be homophobic.

Fortunately, our campus is a long way away from this tragedy, and the idea that those things could happen here is unfathomable but it would be ridiculous to suggest “equality has been mostly achieved”, as was claimed in an article on campus recently. Granted, equality has improved vastly since the 1970s, when the LGBT community began to push for civil rights, but we are not yet at a point where everyone can be considered equal enough to disband LGBT and simply place them under the umbrella of welfare.

For many people, university is the first time they can be true to themselves. Perhaps at school or college they never felt they could come out, perhaps they still haven’t come out to their parents; whatever the reasons may be, joining a society aimed purely at integration, community and togetherness is a massive boost to many freshers. If, as was suggested by Jack Knight in his article, LGBT were to be “disbanded and incorporated into welfare”, then the specific interests of a large group of people on campus would be left un-catered for, and crucially their needs not defended.

Discrimination on campus is not unheard of either. Take for example our LGBT society’s social trip to Leeds, and the subsequent abuse they apparently received on their return from members of this very university. Does that sound like acceptable equality? If people cannot be themselves without fear of reprimand, they are not equal. The LGBT community and societies on campuses across the country offer support to people who are regularly made to feel like they are inferior simply because of their sexual orientation. Just look at the the word “poof” and the frequent use of that great old phrase, “that’s so gay”. If you heard those things spoken on a day-to-day basis, would you view yourself as equal?

To borrow, or perhaps steal, an analogy from Ed Crooks who commented online on a Nouse piece regarding the role of the Women’s Society, if you had a herd of sheep that needed constant care and attention to maintain their health, you would not stop caring for them simply because they were currently in excellent health. The article in question hit the nail on the head, perhaps inadvertently, when it said: “Why should the fact that you sleep with Michael rather than Michelle make any difference.” Why indeed? But the fact of the matter is that being a minority is not as easy as you may think.

Look at the world of sports for a good example. Gareth Thomas, the former international Wales and Lions rugby star, has just come out as homosexual following a career dogged by whispers and rumours. Why did Thomas feel he should have to suffer in silence for so long? Contrast his long plight with the LGBT community we see on campus today and ask yourself which is preferable? The one where there is no support network available and people are forced to lead a fake life of secrecy, or the one where there is a group of people, with similar experiences, who are there to lend a helping hand if you need it, who are there to make you feel accepted, who are there to help you to be yourself and who are there to allow you to feel pride. That’s what LGBT is.


  1. “the specific interests of a large group of people on campus would be left un-catered for”

    What specific interests are these then? Men can still sleep with men, women with women, without LGBT, the fact is, gay people have no more “specific interests” which need catering for than straight people. Being homosexual isn’t an interest or a hobby, it’s a sexual orientation. Sentences like the one I’ve quoted are what artificially create a divide.

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  2. You make a fair point, Ben. However, Henry also makes a fair point as well with what he has said. The problem is that he may not have worded that specific sentence as best as he could have.

    It isn’t that LGBT people necessarily have ‘interests’, as in hobbies, that are specific to them. However, LGBT people certainly do have ‘interests’, be they welfare-specific (dental dams, the issues around not being allowed to give blood, etc) or social (LGBT Social trips to Canal Street for example), that differenciate them from other “large group[s] of people on campus”.

    As for divides that have been created, all sides to work together and need to be open to working together to help close these. Thankfully, at York, this is the case by-and-large.

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  3. I’m an openly gay first year and can’t stand LGBT full stop. They give others a bad name in parading around with rainbow badges proclaiming to any Tom, Dick or Harry that their sexual preference happens to be gay. I know of a first year LGBT rep who has openly admitted using his position to gain casual sex through ‘confused’ people approaching him for advice etc. The militant gays which makeup LGBT need to get over the fact they’re gay and just be quiet.

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  4. AHRRRRRR!!!!: If an LGBT rep has made you feel uncomfortable in any way, then I’d suggest contacting the LGBT Officers ([email protected]) or Welfare Officer (currently [email protected]). While people may have a tendency to embellish their tales of conquest, any concerns raised *will* be taken completely seriously, and would definitely be appreciated given the potential impact on other students’ welfare as well as your own.

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  5. 25 Mar ’10 at 1:41 pm

    normal bloke!!

    At least that rep is making them less confused

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  6. @Ben

    I didn’t want to get involved in this argument, but really??

    “gay people have no more “specific interests” which need catering for than straight people”

    Now I’ve been straight my whole life, and I have never once been abused for being straight. I’ve never been attacked or insulted for being straight. I’ve never been embarrassed to be straight and I’ve never been too scared to tell people I was straight. I’ve never been oppressed for being straight and I’ve never been made to feel like I wasn’t welcome because I was straight.

    But if I wasn’t straight, or I defined in a way that other people didn’t understand, or I wasn’t sure what I was, there’s a much bigger chance that I would have experienced any of those things. So no, it’s not a “special interest”. I’m sure it’s not a hobby or an interest. It’s welfare. Fundamentally it’s welfare. Now some people, like AHRRRRRR!!!! may not want that welfare support, but it would seem to me that it makes a hell of a lot of difference for a lot of students.

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  7. 26 Mar ’10 at 12:53 am

    Ralph de Cordova


    I’m sorry to hear that one of our members has left you with that impression. One of the main roles of the committee is to provide support and friendship for anyone under the L-G-B-T-Q-I-I rubric at the University; the last thing we would want is for the indication to go out that we’re some kind of seedy gentleman’s club, which is something the committee has made a concerted effort to be the complete opposite of.

    Please take heed of Emma’s advice and get in touch with one of the officers she mentions, or myself (rdc503). The committee needs this kind of feedback so that we can get a better impression of where we stand in relation to non-involved LGBT students at York; only then can we know in which directions we ought to make improvements.

    Ralph de Cordova (Bi man’s rep, YUSU LGBT)

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  8. Cheese is a kind of meat.

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  9. Ralph: (just out of curiosity) what’s does the Q-I-I part stand for?

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  10. 4 Apr ’10 at 11:49 am

    Ralph de Cordova


    That said, there are several variations on the initial LGBT acronym, but the general idea is that if you don’t identify as heterosexual and cisgendered (google it) then the organisation is there for you.

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  11. “Cheese is a kind of meat.”

    A tasty yellow beef!

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