EUSA forced to delete IG story ‘trivialising LGBT+ history month’ after student backlash
The story was encouraging people to make rainbow pancakes
EUSA have been forced to delete an Instagram story encouraging students to “combine celebrations of Pancake Day with LGBT+ History Month to add some sparkle to (their) February” which drew considerable criticism from LGBT+ students for ‘trivialising’ LGBT+ History Month.
Former EUSA President Andrew, posted on the Edinburgh Uni LGBT+ students group saying “the micro-aggression jumped out” on the Instagram story.
Other comments included “think I deserve more than just pancake day tbh”, “there’s a reason Pride is still a protest”, and “actually fuck this”.
One commenter questioned the fusing of Shrove Tuesday, a Christian festival to mark the beginning of Lent, and LGBT+ History Month – especially, given the homophobic views held by some mainstream Christian groups including the Catholic church.
Another replied that “Christianity isn’t necessarily not queer”‘ but “actually focussing on LGBT+ Christian history and queer theology would be more interesting and appropriate”.
After the backlash, EUSA deleted the stories and replaced them with an apology. It read: “Earlier today we launched a campaign on Instagram which linked LGBT+ History Month to Pancake Day. We were trying to find new ways to educate our members about the LGBT+ community, but having listened to your feedback we realise now this was a mistake, and our actions trivialised the important message of LGBT+ History Month.
“We’ll be continuing to mark the month by sharing historical and contemporary LGBT+ figures, as well as the important work of our LGBT+ and Trans and Non-Binary Officers to create a more inclusive University community”.
This message was echoed by George Ross, EUSA LGBT+ Liberation Officer, and Amanda Scully, EUSA VP Activities and Services. They were keen to stress they were not personally involved in the ‘misjudged’ story but apologised and hoped this could be an opportunity to learn from.
So, what is LGBT+ History Month?
First held in the UK in 2005, LGBT+ History Month falls every February and is designed to educate, celebrate, and reflect on queer history. This includes all LGBT+ history but with a focus on LGBT+ rights activism, discrimination, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The last one is particularly relevant this year having been brought into the spotlight by Channel 4 drama, It’s a Sin, showing the struggles of young queer people during the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. The epidemic happened against a backdrop of stigma and homophobia – much of it being encouraged by laws like Thatcher’s Section 28 that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in state-funded services including schools. This law wasn’t repealed until 2003 and the age of consent for gay men wasn’t given parity with straight people until 2000.
In fact last year, Scotland became the first country in the world to have a LGBT+ inclusive schools curriculum. Whilst LGBT+ inclusive sex and relationships education only became required in England this year.
‘It’s definitely misplaced and it’s unnecessary to combine these events’
The Edinburgh Tab spoke to George Ross, EUSA LGBT+ Liberation Officer, and Jesse Alexander, Pride Soc President, for their thoughts on the issue.
George told us: “I think the idea of trying to link Pancake Day with LGBT+ History Month was something that was not meant to be intentionally micro-aggressive, and/or trivialise the month. However, I do feel that that is the main issue with things like this, is that it often (I hope) not done with malicious intention.
“This is why the queer community have Pride and LGBT+ History Month so that we can not only celebrate the community and its icons, but it highlights the continued prejudice that we face. I do not want this incident to eclipse the whole of LGBT History Month.
“I would like to tell the queer students on campus, that they can reach out to the liberation campaign at anytime via email: [email protected], and I am sorry that this post was deemed suitable enough to be posted in the first place. Also, please check out the EUSA website for other events I have planned for LGBT+ History Month”.
Meanwhile, Jesse said: “My initial reaction is ‘I really don’t see the point?’ In terms of an online campaign it does seem completely unnecessary to just slap a rainbow on an image of pancakes, it gives similar vibes to companies changing to a rainbow logo during Pride month.
“I do appreciate that their aim was to educate a wider range of people, but it’s definitely misplaced and I agree that it’s unnecessary to combine these events. Especially when LGBT+ History Month is about educating people.”
When approached for comment, EUSA told us to refer back to the statement from the Instagram Story.
Cover image: Twitter via @jackreed27