Could you outline your role as President of the LGBT+ society?
The society is split into campaigns, social and welfare. I basically oversee all of those, making sure that campaigns go ahead, social events happen, members have what they want and that welfare support is sufficient. A big part of my role this year has been about looking at the direction and image of the society, such as how it gets presented to people. A lot of it has also been about drawing people in who were not previously confident in joining this society and promoting the image as something that is a lot more open and welcoming, that doesn’t just revolve around clubbing. Also, if there are issues such as the Milo Yiannopoulos controversy, then I’m the person that represents all members on that and make sure that all members feel like their voices are being heard.
What does the + symbolise?
Originally, in our constitution it represented asexual, pansexual, gender queer, gender fluid, etc. Now we’ve changed it just to say ‘all other sexual and gender identities.’ It basically means no one’s left out – that’s the whole point of it. We’ve even put ‘inclusive of all sexual and gender identities’ as a tagline on our society logo, because it wasn’t emphasised enough in the previous definition.
(Photo Credit: Bristol LGBT+ Society)
What events do you host?
Mainly we aim to do a monthly night out, a monthly coffee afternoon, pub quizzes and we plan to do some movie nights. We also do loads of campaigns such as trans awareness, asexuality awareness and LGBT history month. We have just had our Christmas formal and have a discussion evening and big party planned with our sponsors before Christmas. In April we’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, which will be huge! We’re doing a load of different things this year.
How many people are in the society?
We have over 1k members on Facebook and we have 170 paying members, which I’m told is quite a lot for a society! We had about 120 sign ups at the Fresher’s Fair last year and this year we had 250. We have parenting schemes as well, where younger members of the society are put in a “family”, a bit like with the subjects and we had 135 people sign up as “children” to that this year.
What are your main strategies in promoting the society?
I think a big part of it is being very visible as a President and promoting the society as something open and inclusive. This means putting this information on Facebook, particularly on my profile so that people can Facebook message me, knowing that they’ve got the right person. I quite often have people confidentially contacting me about issues they might be having. For example, a genderfluid student who was not a part of our society was recently attacked outside the Wills Memorial Building. This person asked me to let society members know and when they saw how much support that came through from our members, they realised how helpful the society can be. I also give my mobile number out to people so that they can contact me and I’ll walk them home if they feel unsafe walking back at night alone. A new thing that I thought of recently is setting up a scheme where people can volunteer to walk people back together if they’re in the same area at night, which I think would make a lot of members feel safer. Campaigning is just a third of what this society is about and the majority of is just to make members feel safe and welcomed in our environment.
If you would like more information on the society then head to their page.