Dear NUS, I’m an oppressed gay man and I need to be heard
They have accused gay men of ‘misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia’
In a move that can only be described as tumblr-esque, the NUS LGBT+ Campaign passed a motion calling for the resignation of gay male representatives in LGBT societies, because apparently they are not oppressed enough to warrant their own representative.
This bizarre reasoning completely undermines everything that LGBT+ societies are meant to be for young, queer people. Being LGBT+ isn’t a game of who’s the most oppressed. What these societies are meant to be is a platform for all who identify as LGBT+, an opportunity for representation in the face of outside persecution. An opportunity to socialise, to feel welcomed and for many young queer people, their first opportunity at integrating with other LGBT+ people. Demonising gay men only goes to break up a community that serves as a lifeline for some – gay, lesbian, bi, trans, asexual, genderfluid – it doesn’t matter who you are, you deserve a voice.
Gay men have historically played a role in a myriad of gay rights movements, often to the detriment of other LGBT+ people whose history has been whitewashed and ignored – the 2015 film Stonewall is a prime example. It’s from this angle that the NUS aims its crosshairs at gay men, accusing us of oppressing many others in LGBT+ societies.
The confused logic only serves to remove a base for gay men in their own community without actually fixing the issue at hand, and their blanket stereotyping of gay men as nasty, racist, sexist and transphobic is offensive beyond belief. Most LGBT+ communities have representatives for each self identifying group so that everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard. Being the most privileged of a group of marginalised people doesn’t justify the removal of your platform.
Gay men, like all LGBT+ people, face oppression every day of their lives. From small comments and abstract glances, to verbal and physical harassment. Homophobic attacks are still prevalent in the UK. In October 2015 a 22 per cent rise in homophobic attacks was recorded in the UK over the previous 12 months.
For the NUS to insist that gay men aren’t oppressed ‘enough’ to justify a representative is nothing more than a slap in the face to the gay men who face discrimination and prejudice everyday. Acknowledging the plight and the voice of gay men in no way detracts from the persecution faced by people identifying as lesbian, bisexual, trans, or any other orientation. To remove gay men’s representatives in LGBT+ society, however, does exactly that for gay men.
Men who have sex with men still face a 12 month blood ban after their last sexual encounter. Men who have sex with men still are the most at risk in the country for contracting HIV. Openly gay men are still a target for homophobic attacks in cities and towns across the country. That’s why we have gay reps, to represent gay men.
This motion from the NUS is a mockery of what it means to be LGBT+. Is it a points based system we operate on? Will someone at the NUS be calculating the individual oppression rating of each self defining group? Who will be next to face the wrath of the NUS? Maybe it’s time all men just stepped down from leadership positions in the union, because their privilege so bloody high.
The NUS is not going to solve misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia by removing gay reps, many of whom serve the community well and do no harm to other members. The cases where such issues are present should be tackled locally in much the way any other university society would be treated. Sexism in medical societies would not call for the resignation of all male reps in medical societies across the country.
I think the the oppression here is coming from the NUS itself. Maybe it’s time they check their privilege instead.