“Warwickshire Pride” Statement

Statement from Warwick Pride regarding the organisation named Warwickshire Pride. Please share with your networks.

On September 26th three members of Warwick SU’s LGBTUA+ society Warwick Pride (including two of its co-presidents) were blocked from the Leamington Spa Equality Rally Facebook event, alongside the deletion of their posts, for calling out the lack of accountability within its hosting body Warwickshire Pride and a move towards increased police presence at local LGBTUA+ events and venues despite community objections. Concerns had arisen that those making decisions on behalf of the organisation named ‘Warwickshire Pride’ were small in number, and not representative of the community which they purport to represent. Further attempts to engage Warwickshire Pride concerning their actions have resulted in all but one post by Warwick Pride members being deleted, and the Warwick Pride account banned from the event page.

The event itself was arranged in response to an increase in violence against LGBTUA+ people and People of Colour in the Leamington area in the past two years, the page citing numerous incidences of hate crime attacks. The response involved the invitation of Warwickshire police to the rally and to future LGBTUA+ events.

We find it reprehensible that an organisation that allegedly exists to call out harassment and discrimination, and to support all LGBTUA+ people, should act in such a manner. Public accountability is important for all organisations, and to act to silence criticism is a poor reflection on the worth of said organisation.

Since the events detailed above, Warwickshire Pride has also seen fit to issue a complaint to Warwick SU concerning a number of Warwick Pride members. Calling out a lack of representation and accountability is not ‘aggression’, and acting to silence such actions is deplorable.

We would like to call on Warwickshire Pride to…

  • Provide a public forum to debate the accountability of the organisation.
  • Commit to increased representation of women, people of colour, and trans people.
  • Refrain from tone-policing those who engage with the organisation.
  • Reinstate the access of those who were blocked from the event for calling out a lack of accountability, consultation, and representation.

A copy of the comment threads Warwickshire Pride deleted can be made available to inquirers upon request. Please email hello@warwickpride.org.

Have you done it yet?

In the 2013 local elections it’s estimated that just 32% of 18-24 year olds voted, in comparison with 72% of those aged over 65. Current research suggests that there are over 800,000 young voters who have not registered to vote. Far from being “the future” of policy-making, we seem to be collectively leaving the reins in the hands of our elders. Who knows, maybe that’s less scary a prospect to those of you who haven’t met my nan!

With turnout rates for young voters so low, having fallen significantly in recent years, there’s increasingly less incentive for politicians to take notice of our priorities and concerns. This has a knock-on effect on any number of campaigns we run aimed at policy-makers, from LGBT+ asylum rights to gender-neutral passports. Especially within the LGBT+ community, a vicious cycle of disillusionment and under-representation has been born. As policy becomes less representative of our interests, more and more people conclude that politics has little to do with them. But so also do politicians conclude that the views of young people have little to do with them.

So where do we go from here? How do we make sure that student-led campaigns still get the attention they deserve? The simple answer is vote; register at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and take a wander on the day to put a cross in a box. Where you put that cross is up to you, but you might find it useful to take a look at the SU’s political societies which are all currently free to join. Joining any of the political societies at Warwick in no way makes you a member of their respective parties, it doesn’t confer any kind of affiliation or voting promise, and your society membership is completely confidential. I just joined all four!

Warwick Green Party
Warwick Lib Dems
Warwick Conservatives
Warwick Labour

Sam
Warwick Pride President

Disclaimer: Comments which breach our safe space policy will not be tolerated, and will be followed up by the exec. You can find a copy of our safe space policy

On why I hope you’re not Charlie

As people in the liberation business, we’re well aware of the importance of freedom of expression, and the dangers of silencing views that don’t conform to the mainstream. However let’s not be so naïve as to imagine that there aren’t limits to our freedom to say what we like, or that there shouldn’t be. Would you honestly fight for a world with the freedom to harass, intimidate, and threaten, to incite violence, murder, and terror?

In the weeks since the Charlie Hebdo killings we’ve seen an outpouring of so-called ‘freedom of speech’ activism. The ever-popular #JeSuisCharlie hashtag has spread like wildfire. The point, one can only presume, is to collectively say that you shouldn’t be killed for what you say. That senseless killing affects us all. So far so good… The problem however arises from the nature of the publication you’re purporting to be; Charlie Hebdo weren’t just being mean, or inflammatory, they were repeatedly, unequivocally, and unashamedly xenophobic and racist. When you say you are Charlie, what you’re saying is that you stand where they stand, that you condone racism and xenophobia, and that you would publish what they published.

There’s also a hypocrisy here in who we choose to remember, in who we are able to empathise with. There certainly hasn’t been the same outrage, the same show of solidarity for the victims of the islamophobic backlash resulting from the Charlie Hebdo murders, or the victims of the recent Boko Haram attacks. Our selective solidarity is highlighting longstanding biases, of our limited empathy for anyone ‘not like us’.

So please, if you express this seamless bond of identification with Charlie Hebdo, if you are Charlie, then be honest about what you’re supporting. And if you find that actually you’d rather not be racist and xenophobic, find a better way to express your outrage at the hundreds of senseless murders committed around the world, by people of all races, all religions, all affiliations.

I am not Charlie, and I hope you’re not either.

Sam
Warwick Pride President

Disclaimer: Comments which breach our safe space policy will not be tolerated, and will be followed up by the exec. You can find a copy of our safe space policy

Why don’t we have a men’s rep?

It’s always disheartening to hear someone ask why we don’t have a men’s rep, and more to the point, why we’re against having one. Common arguments include that ‘it’s sexist to have a rep for women, but not for men’. Let’s tackle this from its roots; men do not experience sexism, women-identified folk do. Patriarchy and sexism affect everyone, yes, in the same way that homophobia, transphobia, racism, and islamophobia affects us all. But if you’re male-identified sexism is not directed at you. Sexism results in daft assumptions that men shouldn’t be emotional, that men don’t need support, that men aren’t suitable to be single parents, and other such ridiculous yet serious points. No doubt some of these are what you’re thinking of when you think of ‘men’ and ‘sexism’. But this is categorically not the same as experiencing sexism as women do, of potentially being afraid to walk home alone, of experiencing cat-calling, of male colleagues being promoted over you, of being much more likely to experience sexual assault, the list goes on. The discrimination faced by men because of their gender is the fallout of sexism, and whilst we wholeheartedly oppose that in the same breath it is not ‘sexism’ or ‘reverse sexism’.

Male-identified folk experience male privilege; all men benefit from their privilege, even if they are oppressed as a result of other identities they hold. For example, being a gay male, you are oppressed as a result of your orientation, but you still experience male privilege. Of course our patriarchal society will also cause problems on account of you being male, but that does not mean that you require liberation because of your gender identity. This is at the heart of why we have a women’s rep, but not a men’s rep. Women’s representation, and women’s spaces are still very important in liberation spaces. The phrase “equality of provision vs. equality of outcome” was brought to my attention today; it means that it is necessary to ensure that outcomes are equal, and to vary provision accordingly, rather than to ensure that provision is made equal. Of course we value the experiences of people of all gender identities within Pride, but that does not mean that we must have the same provision for men as we do for women and non-binary identified folk.

Sam
Warwick Pride President

Disclaimer: Comments which breach our safe space policy will not be tolerated, and will be followed up by the exec. You can find a copy of our safe space policy