By Ahmed Negm
Brighton is often described as one of the most diverse and tolerant places within the UK. People from all around the world come to Brighton to find freedom and acceptance. But if that’s the case, why does the university struggle to represent that? The LGBTQ+ Society at the University of Sussex caters very much to white experiences and white culture, often isolating queer people of colour who may be interested in joining but are reluctant to as they do not feel represented nor feel like there is a safe space for them. We’re trying to change that.
The LGBTQ+ Society has teamed up with Decolonise Sussex to help promote diversity and acceptance within the university’s LGBTQ+ community. The ‘Put The Colour Back Into LGBTQ+’ campaign aims to create spaces for queer people of colour where they will have the freedom to be themselves, unapologetically. Through a range of different events and socials that will take place throughout the year, ‘Put The Colour Back Into LGBTQ+’ will help expand the LGBTQ+ Soc to a space where everyone feels welcome, no matter their race.
Living in Brighton, it is often easy to forget that we come from a privileged position. The UK has made large strides in becoming a more accepting and tolerant place for LGBTQ+ since the 1960s, but the same cannot be said for countless other countries. The University of Sussex has one of the largest international communities in the UK, and many students come from countries where being queer is a punishable offense, even going as far as execution. Many of these students come to Brighton to finally exercise their freedom and to live their lives truly and unashamedly without fear of judgement. Yet, the LGBTQ+ society in its current state does not accommodate for these people; it is not a place where these queer minorities feel like they can be their authentic selves, nor is it a place that they feel like they can turn to for help, love and kindness in their times of distress. We need to be better. This is why the ‘Put The Colour Back Into LGBTQ+” is so crucial. Throughout the next year, we will be hosting a number of various events that will bring the spotlight onto queer people of colour, from guest speakers and panels, to QPOC open mics and bar crawls.
LGBTQ+ history has taught us how queer people of colour were instrumental in the Stonewall riots of 1969, which sparked the gay rights movement that led to us having the freedoms we do today. It is time we are taken off the sidelines and have our voices be heard. It is time we unite as a community, uplift each other and prove that we are stronger together.
We are looking for QPOC who are comfortable sharing their experiences as a queer minority with us as part of our campaign, and we would love to hear from you! If you are interested in taking part in the ‘Put The Colour Back Into LGBTQ+’ campaign or would like to host an event, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on our instagram @sussexlgbtq and our Facebook page under ‘Sussex LGBTQ+ Society’ for more updates on what’s to come!