UAB Freshers Week 2016
Letter from the Auditor Hello, and welcome to Trinity College, Dublin. My name is Oli and I am the Auditor (with a capital A) of Q Soc – Trinity LGBT for 2016. As such, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the college and to what is the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ student society in Ireland. Q Soc is a society with a rich history. We trace our roots back to the emergence of the Sexual Liberation Movement in 1974, founded by then-lecturer, Senator David Norris. Today Q Soc is the most active society on campus with an event on every day. Q Soc is unique among societies at Trinity because we aren’t necessarily linked by a particular interest. It is true that many of our members are drawn to us because of our social action work with the Irish LGBT+ community, like our involvement in the Marriage Equality referendum, or our continuing work against the MSM Blood Ban. However, most of our members are linked by one thing – we identify with the Queer community. As a result, we as a society have a wide range of interests: from sport and literature all the way to science fiction and gaming. Whatever your interests, you can find people here to support you throughout your time at Trinity, and to introduce you to the Dublin LGBT+ community.
Editor: Aoife Downey Layout/Copy: Sean O’Carroll Front Cover: Aoife Downey Back Cover: OBG - “It’s about genderfuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart_ it’s about the night.”
This year, I want to focus on inclusivity. Since the successful Marriage Equality Referendum we have had an increase in members, which is fantastic for both Q Soc and the LGBT+ community. More members mean more diversity, and I want to ensure that every single person feels included. We will also be increasing our involvement with other societies within the college in an effort to strengthen membership and show support for the entire Trinity community. It is important to me that we engage members of the queer community who haven’t yet or can’t come out, in addition to allies learning how to best support our cause. If you have a particular interest and want to get involved with the society, please don’t be afraid to reach out! And, as always, if you have any special needs or concerns, just be in touch with me or our Inclusion Officer, and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. University can be daunting, especially in your first year, but you will always have a home in House 6. To our fresh-faced first years, welcome! And to old hands welcome back. Sit down, have some tea, and please make yourself comfortable.
Printed by: Foyle Press Ltd. Contributers: Aoife Downey Felix O’Connor Luke Hannigan Pisswitch Fiona O’Callaghan
A note from our Inclusion Officer My name is Kyle and I’m the Inclusion Officer for QSoc. What that means, basically, is that it’s my job to make sure that everybody feels safe, comfortable, and included in the society. Throughout the year I will organise loads of coming out discussions as well as many types of closed spaces ranging from bisexual to non-binary to asexual spaces. If you have anything you want a closed space for that I don’t cover, give me a shout and I’ll organise one. It’s also my job to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy our lovely society - you will be included, resistance is futile. Therefore I will make sure there are countless coffee hours in accessible places such as the Hamilton and that we sometimes get off campus.
I hope I can do an amazing job making sure everyone is as happy and comfortable in the society. I’ll tell you a bit about myself, as talking about myself (as I’m sure you will be quick to realise) is my favourite hobby! I’m a massive art nerd, as my studying art history and being on the Vis Arts committee may give away. Really just mention any underground, tortured artist and you’ll have my attention. Although I’m obviously a total genius (I read War and Peace guys, yeah) I love trash T.V and will defend Kim Kardashian to my final days. Oh and the 2003 classic The Simple Life really does prove that Paris Hilton is holier than thou. Finally I just love making new friends (awww) and cannot wait to meet and talk to you!
Being an LGBTQIA+ Ally
For a lot of people, starting college is a time to explore one’s identity and individuality. We are exposed to a whole host of new subjects, hobbies, and people and a level of freedom previously unavailable to us. For many, this means potentially exploring their sexuality, gender expression and gender identity. There is a high chance that during your time in Trinity you will meet many people who identify within the LGBTQIA+ acronym (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual as well as many other sexualities and gender identities). If someone chooses to reveal this part of themselves to you it can be difficult to know how to react, especially if it’s not something you have previous experience with or any personal knowledge of. Which is why this guide of dos and don’ts has been put together! Coming out can be a very big step, not to mention a scary one, so if someone does come out to you, it’s important that you have all of the information that you need to be supportive and accepting.
Do’s and Don’ts as a LGBTQIA+ Ally
DO Listen to what they have to say and let them set the tone of the conversation. Listening will show that you respect them and help put them at ease. Be serious or casual depending on whether they’re serious or casual. However, if they seem upset, go ahead and comfort them. Don’t underestimate the power of encouraging words or a hug (if it’s appropriate for your relationship). DON’T Rush them or tell them it was “obvious”. Let them take as much time as they need if you hurry them you could trivialise the situation or make them feel self conscious. Equally, telling someone that it was always obvious that they are [LGBTQIA+] is both impolite and offensive. They may feel embarrassed that it took them a while to come out or they may feel uncomfortable that they fit a “stereotype”. If they ask if you’ve suspected they were LGBTQIA+, answer honestly but respectfully. DO Treat them as they wish to be treated. For some this will mean treating them as you have always done, for others this may mean treating them differently to respect the way in which the now identify as. The best thing you can do is treat them with respect and offer them your support and reassure them that the relationship between the two of you has not been negatively affected. DON’T Ask about their sex life, how they have sex or what they have in their pants. If they want you to know then they’ll tell you but this is not the time to discuss it. Even if you have talked about it in the past, this conversation is about recognising their identity and them as a person, nothing else. DO Ask about confidentiality and reassure them of your confidence. Is this person telling everyone, a few people or just you? While some people come out to everyone at the same time, others come out gradually or prefer to keep things private. If this person isn’t “going public,” make sure they know they can trust you to have this conversation in confidence.
DO Ask appropriate questions. Think about your relationship with this person before they came out. How close are you? How many personal details have you shared in the past? Use discretion. Questions that are appropriate for your best friend or family member might be inappropriate for a student that you have just met or don’t know that long. If there is something that you don’t understand, ask them about it. They want you to understand otherwise they wouldn’t be coming out to you so try to help that happen. DON’T Be offended, or assume this means that they ‘fancy’ you. This is something that a lot of people struggle with for a long time. It may be the case that they weren’t sure of themselves of they just weren’t ready. Whatever the case, the fact that they are telling you now shows they trust you so don’t doubt that. Equally, don’t jump to the conclusion that they’ve been harbouring secret feelings for you. It could make you defensive and they might feel uncomfortable or self-conscious as a result. DO Remember the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with, gender identity is who you go to bed as, and romantic orientation is who you cuddle. It is important to bear in mind however, that sexual identity and gender identity are quite complex so it’s worth doing your own research too! DON’T Ask if they are sure. They are they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t. Equally, if they have come out to previously with a different sexual orientation or gender identity don’t hold them to that. Gender and sexuality are fluid in nature. DO Thank them for trusting you. Thank them for talking to you and let them know that you appreciate that they clearly feel close enough to you to share something so personal. DON’T Use slang or offensive language. In order to help with this we have included a glossary of terms that considered acceptable, but if you are in anyway unsure about what term, if any, they identify with, just respectfully ask them.
Our Safe Space Policy The Safe Space policy was designed to give our members and our committee a clear, direct document explaining the ethos of the society, its belief in maintaining and promoting a safe space for everyone and its obligation to advocate for and protect our members. In short the Safe Space Policy commits Q Soc to ensuring that no-one is made feel uncomfortable or threatened at any Q Soc activity if it is within our ability to do so. Excerpts from the Q Soc Memorandum of Understanding: “The committee recognize that their primary function is to provide for the members of the society to the high est possible degree... ...The committee further acknowledges that queer people are subject to passive & active discrimination within society, both those uniquely instigated by their queer identity and also external disadvantages that are aggra vated by their queer identity... ... In consideration of these facts, the committee undertakes that it is their responsibility as representatives of this community to develop and adhere to a policy of actions and behaviours that seeks to alleviate these diffi culties, ameliorate the conditions under which queer individuals and communities live and advocate for a posi tive and constructive environment for all people.” It is understood that membership in the society constitutes an acceptance of the validity of the Safe Space Policy and an intention to support and abide by its tenets which are as follows: - No one will at any point be required to or pressured into taking part in any activity or conversation on behalf of the society or within the society boundaries which makes them uncomfortable. - Anyone has the right to voice an opinion provided it is presented respectfully. Q Soc has a zero-tolerance policy of any form of discrimination or bullying, any member who is observed or reasonably considered to have engaged in such can be asked to stop by any member or if deemed necessary, asked to leave by a committee member.
Room Policy The following rules ensure that the Q Soc room is an enjoyable communal space for everyone. Every member understands that: 1. Q Soc is a safe space. For you and everyone. Keep it that way! 2. The instructions of any committee member, especially in relation to the policy, must be respected by all members. 3. Q Soc has a zero tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination, including but not limited to: any form of queerphobia, sexism, racism, bullying on the basis of disability, religion, finance or age. 4. The Q Soc room is provided for everyone’s enjoyment and everyone is responsible for the upkeep of the room. Bin your rubbish and use the right bin! 5. Absolutely no alcohol can be consumed in this room. Seriously, we’d get in so much trouble! 6. At all times, try to respect everyone’s differences and opinions and make sure no one is excluded: that’s why we’re here after all! 7. No one ever has to discuss anything in this room that makes them uncomfortable. 8. The room cannot be used to store members’ bags for long periods and during the day the floor must be kept clear. 9. No laptops or disruptive devices can be used during coffee hours. Outside of coffee hours, nothing loud or distracting can be used in the room.
Meet the Committee Hailing from Macclesfield, Cheshire, Oliver found a home away from home in the society in his very first year. A suave and sophisticated Oliver Riordan gentleman with the style to match, Oliver represents a small minorHe/Him ity in Q Soc through his enthusiasm for football, as he plays for the Auditor Dublin Devils and on some afternoons can be found coaching the JS Catholic Theology Trinity teams. As Auditor, Oli oversees the running of the society and orders his committee to write flattering descriptions of him for our various publications.
She/Her Secretary SF English Lit & Classical Civilisation
A former teenage Girlo and currently the (self-appointed) Princess of the Butch, Fiona initially came to Q Soc as an ally wishing to better aid and understand the LGBT community. While Q Soc is always glad to welcome allies, it’s also a place where anyone can feel comfortable exploring their identity, and as such Fiona the ally is with us no more. As secretary, she is responsible for number of tasks that can be described at best as A Mystery to All but include getting the weekly email sent out to all of our members.
With an avid interest in art, literature, poetry, LGBTQ issues and all things stationery our treasurer is always kept busy. When they’re Treasurer not in the Q Soc room they can usually be found in a comfy seat They/Them in the Ussher library, in a cosy coffee shop, at a poetry reading or JS English Lit & French getting involved in organisations that matter to them. As treasurer, they’re responsible for taking care of the society’s finances and securing sponsorship for Q Soc. Sean comes to you as a true jack of all trades: not only is he on the committee of the college LGBT society, he is the SU’s LGBT officer. Sean O’ Carroll Making full use of his lucrative Computer Science degree, Sean is He/Him the official Photoshop monkey of Q Soc. As P.O. he is responsible Publicity Officer for any number of copyright infringements every time he makes a JS Computer Science poster and ensuring you look as good as possible when your social media feed is dominated by the photos from Q Soc’s hottest events.
He/Him Inclusion Officer JS Ancient History & History of Art
Hailing from Donegal, Kyle is the resident art kid of Q Soc. Kyle has defining traits other than his ridiculously long course title, such as his tattoos and his button-down shirts. Kyle is known around Trinity for his vibrant personality: as the man himself says, “dropping it low while in crutches is still one of my finest moments”. Always interested in what anyone has to say, Kyle aims to help those who want to get involved in QSoc but may find it daunting to do so through the Inclusions Scheme.
Fiona has a slew of interests that never fail to intrigue and endear people to her. She can hold court in discussion on anything and eveFiona O’Callaghan rything from travelling in the Middle East, to Alexander the Great, She/Her to Thomas Jefferson, to unsolved mysteries subreddits. Few people Liasons Officer think about everything as deeply and a profoundly as Fiona does SF Science which is helpful in her role as University Times LGBT Editor. As Liasions Officer, she is responsible for running campaigns relevant and important to Q Soc.
Beating at least half the committee for the coveted description of geek through the sheer volume of trivia they possess, our collective Leo O Connor gaze falls on the treat-sized, genderqueer Leo. Possessing a personThey/Them ality distilled from pure sunshine they are one of the nicest people Amenities Officer you could hope to meet, attentively aware of the goings-on of the JS Catholic Theology society’s members and genuinely worrying for anyone in difficulty. As Amenities Officer, Leo is responsible for the booking and preparing of the society’s events as well as managing the society room. Aoife Downey is a full-on delight the likes of which the world thoroughly does not deserve. Casual observation suggests that approxiAoife Downey mately 30% of Aoife’s communication is either a pun or finger guns. She/Her As Librarian, she comes with an impressive knowledge of queer Librarian films, TV shows, music, novels, short stories, poems, games, web SF Science comics and any other conceivable form of communication. She is also responsible for, among other things, the society’s queerative writing group, culminating in the Q Soc Play during Rainbow Week.
She/Her Web Master SF Computer Science & Lanuage
Having come all the way here from Kerry, Jane knows full well that she doesn’t have a Kerry accent but feel free to tell her anyway. If you don’t quickly distract her she’ll end up telling you far more than you really want to know about linguistics, so be sure to have a fact about musicals or a Tumblr text post ready to divert her attention. As Webmaster, she controls the layout and content of the society’s website and collects “good content” to post on the social media.
Luke Hannigan is the chillest dude in Q Soc. He loves dogs more than words can adequately describe, and has something wise to say He/Him about any topic you bring up around him. When he isn’t working Member of Committee towards fundamentally changing our understanding of the physical SF Science universe, Luke can be found in the Q Soc room being laid-back yet super engaging in conversation with our members.
Wills is a super friendly guy and always a delight to have the Q soc
He/Him room! He’s known for his style and his earnest desire to make an Member of Committee impact on Q soc. Chocolate is his biggest weakness but shhh don’t SF Huaman Health & tell anyone! Wills is always up for a chat or a cup of tea. Disease
Leo is a delightful person whose affable personality and wonderful hair have made him a favourite around the Q Soc room. A poet, Any Pronouns writer and raconteur, his twin priorities of Q Soc and Lit Soc (what Member of Committee are “classes”?) keep him around House 6, attending more coffee JS English Studies hours than any man was ever meant to attend.
With a keen interest in a wide variety of topics from history to biology to obscure queer themed musicals, conversation come easy Nicola with her. She’s been known to cause confusion across campus as her She/Her patented two-jacket aesthetic and bright hair that imply she ought Member of Committee to reside in the Arts Block conflict with her home on the Hamilton SF Science end of campus. However if you wish to stay on her good side, don’t question the superiority of mint chocolate.
Glossary AFAB - Acronym used to describe people, usually trans, who were “assigned female at birth” Agender - Is someone who identifies as having no gender or being without a gender identity. Ally - A (typically straight or cis) person who supports, respects, and advocates for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. AMAB - Acronym used to describe people, usually trans, who were “assigned male at birth” Androsexual - Attraction to masculinity. Asexual/Ace - A person who generally does not feel sexual attraction or desire to any group of people. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy. Aromantic - A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in forming romantic relationships. Bisexual - A person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and people of other genders. Cisgender - An adjective used to describe a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth based on their physical sex. Cisnormativity - The assumption, in individuals or institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior to trans identities or people. Demisexual- An individual who does not experience sexual attraction/feels asexual, unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with another individual. FTM - Refers to people who are assigned female at birth but who have transitioned to male or masculine identities, such as trans men or trans masc. Gay - A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex, usually used to described men attracted to other men but also used to describe women attracted to women. Gender Binary - The gender binary is a model of gender that classifies all people into one of two genders, male or female. A person can only be one or other option, not both, neither or something between the two. Gender Expression - The external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanour, social behaviour, and other factors, generally measured on scales of masculinity and femininity. Gender Identity - The internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Genderqueer - Refers to individuals who “queer” or problematise the hegemonic notions of sex, gender and desire within society. Genderqueer people possess identities which fall outside of the widely accepted gender binary
(i.e. men and women). Genderqueer may also refer to people who identify as both trans AND queer, therefore people who challenge both gender and sexuality norms. Gynesexual - Attracted to femininity Heteronormativity - The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities. Often included in this concept is a level of gender normativity and gender roles, the assumption that individuals should identify as men and women, and be masculine men and feminine women, and finally that men and women are a complimentary pair. Intersex - Someone whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Lesbian - Women attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women. Monosexual - A person who is attracted to members of one sex or gender only, be that members of the same or opposite sex, or members of the same or different gender. MTF - Refers to people who are assigned male at birth but who have transitioned to female or feminine identities, such as trans women or trans femme. Non-Binary - Is an umbrella term covering any gender identity that doesn’t fit within the gender binary. The label may also be used by individuals wishing to identify as falling outside of the gender binary without being any more specific about the nature of their gender. Pansexual - A person who is attracted to someone regardless of the gender or sex, or a person who is attracted to all or many gender expressions, not just male, and/or female. Polyamory - Is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners. Queer - An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual or not cisgender. Queer identities may be adopted by those who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader, less conformist, and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT. Romantic Attraction - An emotional response that most people often feel that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Many asexual people, though not all, experience romantic attraction even though they do not feel sexual attraction. Sexual Attraction - Attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest. Skoliosexual- A person who is attracted to people who don’t identify as cisgender. Trans/Transgender- Used as an umbrella term to refer to all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system. (Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, not a noun, thus “transgender people” is appropriate but “transgenders” is often viewed as disrespectful.)
How to Get Involved The beauty of a society like Q Soc is that you can be involved as much or as little as you like. We have an array of events and clubs that might pique your interest. Here’s just a few that might intrigue you! Coffee Hours: We run daily coffee hours all year from 1-3 o’clock in our society room on the 2nd floor of House 6. Coffee hours are a great place to meet new people, to chat with your friends and to take a breather from the hectic pace of college life. People have been known to take refuge from the stress of academics in our cosy (read: tiny) room. It’s not unusual to enter the room with the aim to eat your lunch, avail of the free tea and coffee (and sometimes biscuits!) and have a chat to some new people and to leave the room with new best friends. Queerative Writing: A group run by your benevolent Librarian for people who love to write. The group will gather a few times per term to share our work with each other, discuss plot ideas, discuss writing queer characters and themes that feel genuine and just help each other out in general. Our other aim is to put together some short plays, that we can later stage during the Student Union’s annual Rainbow Week. Together we’ll pick a theme for the plays and write some scenes that are sure to entertain the masses. Book Qlub: This is the place for those of you that love to read and in particular love to read things with queer associations. We know it’s tough to read a whole book during the college year when you have your course work to keep up with so we’ll get together to read and discuss some queer short stories, poems and essays as well as novels. Do you have a lot of thoughts on lesbian pulp fiction? Have you read a lot of queer poetry? Is Oscar Wilde your hero? Do you kind of enjoy queer love stories? Then this is the Qlub for you! Film Qlub: Are you interested in queer movies, TV shows and webseries? Well then you’ve come to the right place! We will screen and discuss a selection of works throughout the year from classics like our annual Rocky Horror Picture Show screening to new, up and coming material like the Emmy nominated webseries HerStory.
Documentary Qlub: (We just really like to put the letter Q in words, okay guys?). If you enjoy learning about a variety of issues that effect queer people around the world and about queer activists the world over, then you’ll enjoy this new collaborative innovation from your Librarian and your Liaisons Officer. We aim to screen some important and fascinating documentaries that will spark some discussion and debate. Campaign Meetings: If you’re the kind of person that enjoys making a difference and trying to change the inequalities you see in the world then you should get involved in our campaigns meetings. Our Liaisons Officer will be running campaigns throughout the year, which will aim to make a difference in the LGBT community on a local and more widespread level. Make sure to attend the open campaigns meeting and contribute to causes that matter to you. Closed Spaces: We hold a range of Closed Spaces during the year that cater to various identities. These are spaces for you to get together and discuss the difficulties and the struggles as well as the positives related to your identity in a safe and comfortable environment, with the knowledge that what is said in the closed space (so long as it is appropriate and respectful) stays within the closed space. Amongst the closed spaces that will be held are Bi, Ace and Trans closed spaces. Coming Out Discussions: Coming out is a difficult and stressful thing for all queer people and everyone has their own unique experience be it positive or a struggle and sometimes you need a place to feel comfortable discussing it. Coming out discussions are a closed space where you can tell your story and listen to others’ safe in the knowledge that you’re not alone in your experience and that everything you say is in confidence. It’s often a very positive experience to share your story with people in a similar boat. We can’t wait to see you at one of these events or the variety of others held throughout the year!
Bury the Trope: LGBT Fans Deserve Better Aoife Downey
If you are as invested and as interested in queer media, as I am then you’re probably aware of the recent outcry regarding LGBT character deaths on TV. While there’s been an exceptional number of these deaths so far in 2016, this is by no means a new phenomenon. In fact, it has existed since there’ve been LGBT characters in any kind of mainstream media. This is known as the “Bury Your Gays” trope. For those of you who’ve probably spent your spare time in a more productive manner than I and haven’t whiled away hours on tvtropes.org, a trope is a recurring plot device or an archetype; the “Bury Your Gays” trope being a particularly recurrent one that is very prominent among women loving women characters. It’s a remnant that persists from a code of ethics television networks prescribed to older works (on the rare occasions that queer characters were found in older works, that is). The basic notion is that queer characters just aren’t allowed to have happy endings and must be portrayed as evil or doomed so as to reinforce the immorality of their “lifestyle.” tvtropes.org has this to say about it: “Sometimes gay characters die in fiction because in fiction sometimes people die; this isn’t an if-then correlation, and it’s not always meant to “teach us something” or indicative of some prejudice on the part of the creator. However, it is impossible to discount unconscious biases and broader contexts that do lend the trope credence. Additionally, the problem isn’t merely that gay characters are killed off: the problem is the tendency that gay characters get killed off far more than straight characters, or when they’re killed off it’s because they’re gay.” Now that we’re all on the same page, I can tell you that this trend is one that’s haunted me for as long as I’ve known I was queer – and honestly before that too. As a young kid who was starting to figure out who I was and how I was dif-
ferent, I looked to TV, books and movies, as I always had, to find people like me – people who helped me feel less alone. When I was 13 or 14 and didn’t like who I was, was scared of who I was and what seemed to set me so apart from everyone around me, fictional characters were very important to me. I saw young, timid, geeky, queer Willow Rosenberg in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and felt an undeniable kinship, I felt like finally I could see myself on screen. When she met the even more timid, mysterious witch Tara Maclay and fell in love, I rejoiced. Perhaps I too could have a future like this despite a lack of real life evidence. And that’s why- after two seasons of growth and development, of trials and tribulations, and most importantly of genuine love – it broke my little, queer, so-far-in-the-closet-Iwas-halfway-to-Narnia heart when, not five minutes after a genuinely heart-warming reunion and love scene, Tara was killed by a stray bullet intended for the main character through the window of her bedroom. Tara’s death served as a motivator for Willow’s brief descent into evil and spurred on the final story arc of the season. It was real blow for me. That episode, 6x19 “Seeing Red” (let’s pretend I had to google those details okay?), aired in 2002. So when, on 6th March 2016, Commander Lexa on The 100, the remarkably badass lesbian ruler of a civilisation of warriors, who was incredibly popular due to the depth of her character and the beautiful romantic relationship she had with the bisexual lead of the show, Clarke Griffin, was killed off under almost the exact same circumstances as Tara Maclay, people were understandably upset. 14 years later and the lesbian still gets killed by a stray bullet intended for the lead character and dies in her lover’s arms for the sole purpose furthering a plotline. This death in particular, despite being neither the first nor the last of its kind by a long margin, spurred people into a justified anger. People had finally had enough of this trope. The
reason Lexa’s death hurt so much was because of the way the showrunner of the 100, Jason Rothenberg, had used this much-loved couple (affectionately given the moniker “Clexa”) as an advertising stunt, to gain a large LGBT fan base which did wonders for the show’s ratings only to arbitrarily kill off this fan favourite character. It felt like a betrayal. People were hurt. This hurt inspired them to great kindness and over $100,000 for the LGBT charity the Trevor Project and to start the LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign. It’s a positive outcome from what is ultimately a thing that devastated a lot of people. I’m not the only one who uses fiction as an escape from what can sometimes be a less than ideal reality and a lot of people place a lot of stake in the few positive, queer representations they can find, such as Lexa. Every showrunner’s favourite excuse or explanation for queer deaths when put on the spot by fans, who are more astute than writers often give them credit for, is the old faithful “nobody is safe on this show, anyone can die”. In theory, this is a valid point but in practice it’s a lazy excuse for irresponsible storytelling and honestly, more often than not, “anyone” turns out to be a woman or a person of colour or a queer person and rarely the “misunderstood” cishet white male lead. Often times writers don’t seem to expect their fans to be aware these things, and when pressured about their creative decisions are happy to skirt the question and blame any number of things. “Scheduling difficulties,” “it made the most narrative sense,”, “it furthered another character’s plotline,” etc. The latter plays into another trope known as “Women in Refrigerators” which comes from a Green Lantern comic in which a female love interest was killed and stuffed in the main hero’s fridge, she became a plot device to further a man’s plotline. Characters (usually female) are given little to no development and serve no purpose other than to further another character’s (usually a cishet man) angst driven plotline. Other showrunners like to explain that within the world they’ve created, race and gender and sexuality are no longer the issues they are in our world, which once again is a wonderful thing in theory. We all long for a world in which the struggles we’ve faced based on our sexualities or genders or race or anything else that makes us “other” are no longer an issue and not a thing people face any longer and yet this excuse falls flat and comes across as just that – an excuse. Regardless of whether or not within these fictional world’s societal norms and prejudices differ from those in reality, the impact stories have is in reality and not in the worlds they’re set in. Fiction does not exist within a vacuum and writers have a societal responsibility to their fans. Saying that LGBT characters are not discriminated against within your narrative does not negate that your LGBT audience have suffered real injustices and are vulnerable and when you play to that and advertise your show or book or movie as having positive representation and then you once again kill those characters or have them be morally corrupt
or have them betray each other and realise that they were straight all along (god forbid a character be bisexual) queer people are rightfully upset and offended. It’s lazy, unskilled writing. Character deaths are usually played for shock value, that’s their purpose, but at this point queer characters surviving the show and having a happy ending would be the shock plot twist. When all you can expect is tragedy and death for the people like you in your escapism, things can start to look quite bleak. The statistics speak for themselves at this point and they’re harrowing. 40% of wlw characters on TV in January 2016 had been killed off by May of the same year. That’s an exceptional number. The queer media themed blog Autostraddle wrote an article following The 100 controversy that had the original title of “All 76 dead queer women on TV and how they died.” Due to people submitting characters they had forgotten, the number has more than doubled and is increasing every day. At the time of this article being written the number was 156. That’s 156 explicitly stated wlw characters who were series regulars that’ve been killed off, forgetting all those who’ve never been explicitly stated to be queer. At the other extreme, the number of wlw characters on television with happy endings (ie. alive, happy, didn’t decide they were straight all along, didn’t get amnesia and forget their lover, etc.) is a measly 29. Those aren’t encouraging odds. When reality is often bleak and unforgiving and we know that LGBT people are still not on an equal playing ground, we look to fiction for a break from all that is grim and depressing. To be incessantly confronted with death and gloom in our chosen form of escapism can be harrowing. I’m inclined to agree with the thoughts of Youtube personality Moog Ferlita following the death of Lexa when they said, “I’m fucking tired of seeing myself die. Is that all we get? Movies: we die. TV: we die. Books: we die. Video games: we die. Real life: we’re dying!” Some may disregard this as unimportant but honestly I’m also tired of seeing myself die. So to the showrunners and writers of the future, I implore you, consider the societal implications and ramifications of of your stories. Consider the realities of your audiences before you replicate them in your fiction and try to explain why your story is the one that’s different, why your queer character dying isn’t like the other twenty before it because, because, because… We’re exhausted, we’ve heard it all before, and frankly we deserve better.
A History of Pride: From Stonewall to Smirnoff Fiona O’Callaghan This year’s pride parade in Dublin had tens of thousands of attendees. The streets were flooded with people bedecked and bedazzled in rainbow apparel. Alcohol began flowing around 12pm and didn’t stop until early the next morning. Pride in the 21st century is drastically different to how it was when it first began. Back at pride’s initial inception, it was less of a glittery party and more a solemn political protest. The roots of pride can be traced back to 1965. Early gay rights groups such as the Mattachine Society held public protests in Philadelphia called “Annual Reminders”, which served to draw attention to the lack of basic rights afforded to gay Americans. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, these ‘Annual Reminders’ turned into “Christopher Street Liberation Day,” an annual commemoration of Stonewall on June 28th. The movement became less radical throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Most mentions of “liberation” were replaced instead with “pride,” and the yearly gathering slowly transformed from a protest to a celebration. Nowadays, annual pride parades are a sea of rainbow corporate logos and the radical roots of pride have largely been forgotten. Every June, companies clamour to be seen as allies to the LGBT community. Some even use this platform as the basis for an entire ad campaign, as was seen with Smirnoff this year. In fact, a 2015 survey of Chicago pride revealed that the majority (52%) of contingents in the parade were corporations; the other 48% were a mix of religious groups, health organisations, politicians, and LGBT groups. There’s nothing inherently wrong with corporations showing their support for the LGBTQ community, and every bit of positive visibility helps combat heteronormativity. However, it’s hard to not see it as exploitative that a company is
celebrated for slapping a rainbow on logo once pride season rolls around, irrespective of their stance on LGBT rights throughout the rest of the year. Many of these corporations avail of the free advertising that pride provides, and then once June is over, return to ignoring the issues faced by the community: whether that’s continuing to push gendered products, or not having a policy in place for workplace discrimination. Corporations are not people. Their actions (or lack thereof) speak louder than their words. It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost every organisation has figured out that being involved with pride will reflect well on them. For example, UKIP attempted to march in the London parade until being banned in 2015 due to “safety concerns.”. UKIP sees no conflict of interest in marching in the pride while simultaneously calling to ban people with HIV from entering the UK. The dilution of pride to be more palatable is a dangerous direction for the mainstream LGBT community to be going. There is space for Pride season to be a celebration while still acknowledging the struggles we have faced in the past, and will continue to face in the future.
My Pride Pisswitch
My Conscience OBG
My pride was no “end biphobia” signs No “pansexual and proud” Where were the “asexual is ok” signs No “keep your politics out of my pants” No “there are more than two genders” My pride was boxes that I didn’t fit My pride was rainbow patterned Smirnoff ads My pride was my identity becoming a marketing tool My pride was yes equality My pride was I can only marry if I declare myself one of two genders that I am not My pride was people embracing the members of the lgbtq community that don’t make you uncomfortable My pride was if you’re in the closet you’re a traitor My pride was drunk 12 year olds telling a homeless man to get a job My pride was the forgotten riots My pride was being excluded for not looking queer enough My pride was watching my community used as an excuse for going on the lash so you can “party with the gays” to fill your “I’m not prejudiced” quota for another year My pride was gay men touching me and saying their violation of my skin doesn’t matter cause they don’t want to fuck me My pride was straight women hitting on me to turn their boyfriend on My pride was straight girls trying to kiss me for a selfie with a rainbow filter My pride was “If you’re non binary why do you dress like a girl?” My pride was “If you’re not male or female, who do you mate with?” My pride was people flooding my Facebook feed with the Orlando filter and then saying those who chose to march in black were “making the whole thing a bit depressing” My pride was Paddy’s day with different flags My pride is becoming another Hallmark holiday My pride was not LGBTQ+ pride My pride was cisgender homosexual pride Your pride does not have a space for me. Your pride does not have a space for my partner. Your pride is not my pride.
The Changing Face of Nerd-dom Felix O’Connor
So far, 2016 has been a year of upheaval. Not since swathes of anti-feminists swarmed the internet during the infamous Gamergate of 2014-15 have I seen so much discussion of equality in mainstream pop culture, and so much backlash. This year, with much feminist fanfare and butthurt fanboy outage, came the most recent addition to the Ghostbusters film canon. Ghostbusters (2016), as it’s being called by many for clarity’s (and in some cases, vitriol’s) sake, is a reboot of the much loved classic 1984 film Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as a team of exterminator style ghost hunters. The 2016 reboot’s most notable difference to the 1984 version is that the four phantom fighting heroes are not quite as, well, male. No, this ghostbusting team, for the first time ever, has an all female ensemble. As a refreshing part from the “token chick” trope, this decision was taken to less than kindly by a certain portion of the male nerd demographic (read: straight, white and cisgender). The film is good. It’s an enjoyable summer blockbuster romp through New York city with some great action sequences and really funny, engaging characters. It’s great to see SNL’s Kate McKinnon, the first out lesbian on the show to date, finally getting recognition as the pure red hot ball of talent that she is. But the most interesting thing about this film, I think, is how it comments on the state of nerd culture right now, in 2016. The 1984 film wasn’t really about nerdiness. Yes, Stantz and Egon and even Venkman, at a slight stretch, were nerds. But in 1984 being a nerd meant a very different thing to what it means now. In 1984 comic conventions were still a fringe event, as opposed to the massively influential cornerstones of media consumption that they are in 2016. Being a computer scientist or games developer in 1984 was characterised as being a loser in your parents’ basement where now, while that stereotype still somewhat persists, professions in computing and games are some of the highest earning in the world. In 2016 superhero films like Deadpool with a traditionally uneventful February release makes over twice its budget back in the opening weekend. In 1984 the only superhero
film to be released was the infamously bad Supergirl. The world has changed drastically in the 32 years since Ghostbusters (1984) was released. Those very nerds that felt outcast by the mainstream media in their youth, who felt like Ghostbusters (1984) understood them and their geeky niche, are now being marketed to as a valuable and profitable demographic. The underdog has become the mainstream and yet retains the mindset of the underdog. Which is becomes more complicated when taking into account the fact that some of us- the LGBT+ community, women, people of colour- have not had the same rise to mainstream importance as the straight white cisgender males of nerd-dom. Many of us still struggle for accurate, respectful representation (or representation at all for that matter) in mainstream media. Which is where we get back to Ghostbusters (2016). One of the central plot elements of the film (minor spoilers incoming) is the idea of finding community when one needs it. The film’s arguable protagonist Erin (Kristen Wiig) tries to hide away her former interest in the paranormal in order to better assimilate into respectable academic society. It’s established later in the film that she is still haunted (no pun intended) by childhood bullying and isolation over her unconventional interest in ghosts, and trauma over a ghost repeatedly visiting her and no one believing her. No one, except for Abbey (Melissa McCarthy) a co-founder of the Ghostbusters and childhood friend. Rowan (Neil Casey) the villain of the film, has similar issues with shame and a history of isolation, however instead of finding community as Erin does, he lets his resentment of others fester and turn into something much more toxic altogether, culminating in a desire to destroy the world for being so cruel to him. What Ghostbusters (2016) does is takes a mirror to its audience and says “Which of these would you rather be?”. It acknowledges the pain felt by both Rowan and Erin as valid and shows different ways that real people react to this kind of pain and trauma- internalisation or community. As members of the LGBT+ community, as students, as nerds, we all experience injustice and feel overwhelmed by a world that seems indifferent to our struggles. But we have a choice. We can let those overwhelming feeling get the best of us, smother us, fill us with rage and resentment, let them turn us into giant undead creatures bent on smashing New York to pieces. Or we can use those feelings to grow stronger. We can use them to fuel us, to bring us together, to power those awesome guns that Kate McKinnon licks like a badass right before her big action sequence. So, when there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call?
From Masc4Masc to Butch Enchanté Luke Hannigan
Finally leaving secondary school was almost euphoric. Having spent five years as a closeted trans student, bumbling through the hallways with a Bieber haircut and bound chest, I was beyond ready to get out of there. During my time at school, I was stuck between needing to express myself in a way that made me comfortable, and attempting to somehow fit in. Gangly, acne ridden and self conscious, I had all the trappings of an awkward teen with a generous dash of queerness. I really wanted to fit in, I think most people do. The most liberating experience is learning to let go of that. I’ve come to realise that as a baby trans I was under all sorts of misunderstandings about what being a trans guy could look like. I thought if I was trans then I needed to pass or at least I needed to always try. That I should moderate my excitement when speaking so that my voice wouldn’t stray too high in pitch. That I should practice walking with a wider gait and should always hunch my shoulders forward to hide my chest. I thought I needed to embody Man™ if I wanted to have my trans identity respected. I thought I should have an opinion on sports, do bicep curls, partake in banter and never wear pink. My school environment served to reinforce this. If I couldn’t be one of the girls then I’d better be one of the lads or else I’d be no one. For the first two weeks of college I had a terrible cold. My chest was in bits but part of me was delighted because the sickness had forced my voice down an octave. I was also continuing to bind despite having a chesty cough (don’t do that guys). The result of this was that I developed a lingering cough that periodically returns to rattle my body, now dubbed my ‘death cough’. I think it’s fair to say that stubbornly binding to the detriment of one’s health is self-destructive. But what mattered to me at the time was that I could present myself to my new classmates as deepvoiced, flat-chested Luke who is totally normal and just one of the guys. I needed to blend in. The problem: I am not #masc4masc. I am teary eyes and quiet giggles. I dismiss gender expectations when they are
applied to others but for some reason I thought I needed to tow the line. My dandy self couldn’t stay suppressed for long. By the end of Michaelmas term I’d begun to integrate with the Trinity queers and my wrists grew limper by the day. I am only now truly coming to peace with my identity. It took me fourteen years to stumble upon my queerness and I have spent six more trying to beat it into shape, into the likeness of what is binary and acceptable. I could be queer, just not with the frills. I had let myself out of the closet but stuffed all the sequins under the bed. Just around Christmas, I started dating my current partner. He was dapper and camp, and has introduced me to many illustrious queers from the community. I’m not sure whether he spotted my inner queen from the very beginning or gradually came to see my potential, but he certainly dragged the sequins out from their hiding place. He helped me to let go, let go of being the kind of guy who blends in with his peers. He strung fairy lights from my closet and called them to life with three sassy snaps of his fingers. He has made me the man I am, draped in a feather boa and velvet, he made me dazzle with shade. And thus Butch Enchanté was born. I have stopped yearning to succeed as a standard issue guy and would much prefer to contravene those prescribed modes of gender performance in as lavish a form as possible. Butch is my inner queen manifest, she is a drag persona I hope to one day realise once I’m further down the road on my transition. Butch is genderfuck and jubilant, she rejoices in her difference. She is everything I shunned within myself. Allowing her life is reparations with a part of me that was hushed and silenced for too long. This isn’t to say that I have completely overcome the impulse to restrain my sassiness. My death cough still visits, along with the fear that created it. The need to pass in given situations, such as public bathrooms, is still very real and gender dysphoria cannot be healed so easily. But I think it might be helping. I don’t know you or your experience of gender, but I would press you to allow yourself room to wander. Taste each flavour of gender performance, find what liberates you. Maybe black docs and a leather jacket will really feel right. Or you could moonlight as a diva, play around with androgyny. Just don’t quiet any part of you for the sake of normality. It’s hard but it is worth it, because we can be so beautiful if we only allow ourselves. Almost a year on from coming to Trinity, my cough is finally beginning to fade. I have grown so much and learned to love parts of me that had been hidden, steeped with shame. If you are a fresher, giddy with nervous energy, let me give you one piece of advice: Let the queers in! They will do you so much good.
Published on Sep 9, 2016