LUSU’s latest Cross Campus Officer elections were all about sex. You may have missed it (I really would not blame you if you had). Debate was raging across campus about how the Union deals with it’s sexual minorities and their representation.
Naturally, as with all matters relating to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) when I say the debate was raging; I mean a few people whispered about it a little. There was, unfortunately, no grand open debate; only a hust with a few questions afterwards from those few LUSU loyalists who remained until 11pm. So, assuming you missed it, let me remind you of what was whispered quietly.
When taking the decision to run for the LGBTQ Cross Campus Officer and for Pendle JCR LGBTQ it became apparent to me that I could not rely solely on my LGBTQ friends to elect me. I had to appeal to a wider audience. I had to appeal to the heterosexual majority. Bless you guys, you are actually rather easy to please. All one needs do is to do a hust and seem particularly wound up over some issue or another, throw in a sprinkle of specialist terms that no one dare admit they do not recognise or understand and hey presto you are an officer. Thanks, but really, you guys deserve more.
After all, you are the people who voted me into office. Why then do I only bare any obligation to represent those who fall under the categories of LGBT and Q? Surely if you vote, you ought to have some sort of vested interest in the outcome? Why also do LGBTQ Students not have a say in their own representation? We can vote equally to any other, it is true, but what use is a vote if we can’t even collectively affect the outcome of the ballot?
And so I made the case for the LGBTQ Officer to be reshaped into a Sexuality Officer with responsibility for the sexual health and wellbeing of all who can vote them in. It had a mixed reception. In LUSU, it went down like a rock. The other two candidates opposed it and if the questions after the hust are anything to go by, the other LUSU officers did not much like the notion either. Compare that to Pendle where about two dozen students came to me after speeches had ended and told me they agreed entirely and we can see that this is a contentious issue.
I was elected to the Pendle JCR but not as a Cross Campus Officer (CCO). Thus the case for consensus arises. A JCR member who has been elected on a mandate to reform and a CCO elected on a mandate to block it. In my mind, that is a perfect recipe for a Christmas sitcom. Not so much for a joint-campaign.
The review has now come then of the way in which Pendle and the Union deal with minority sexualities, gender identity, democratic mandates and remits. The solution? We went to Trev and had a pint. Robin Goodings, the newly elected LGBTQ CCO, his predecessor Sarah Newport, Pete Macmillan, LUSU’s Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) and I sat down and talked sex.
What we came out with was rather interesting. We agreed. My fears of a three man gang up against me were shattered, as a constructive discussion on where we in the JCRs and Union stood on such matters, took shape. We talked about how the Pendle JCR position needed to be inclusive of all but that LGBTQ still needed to be visible. In the end, Robin and I walked away with a piece of paper each outlining what had been provisionally agreed to.
I will be presenting that consensus to Pendle’s JCR elect over the next week or so and will be formally presenting it to the JCR in the coming term. By Easter, we may see our consensus in place.
It’s a success for compromise and it says a lot for the future of LGBTQ on campus. Lancaster’s Sexual Consensus is here and it looks to be popular. Two men, two different mandates, one agreement. Hey, maybe we could form a coalition?