To argue that there is no repression of women, black or ethnic minorities, or LGBTQ minorities, is dangerous, condescending, and disturbingly naïve

This is a response to an article arguing LGBTQ reps are obsolete, which you can read here.

‘Dear voter’, began the missive. ‘This postal vote is being sent to you to allow you to vote in the May 2015 general election for the member of Parliament for North East Somerset’. So far so good. ‘Please note that the primary responsibility of the North East Somerset Member of Parliament will be to the community in North East Somerset.’

‘Therefore if you do not identify as a member of this community, you may not be in a very good position to determine which candidate would be best to represent it.’

‘As such, if you are not a permanent resident in North East Somerset, please consider not voting in this election.’

Ah. Now this is a problem. As a student in Oxford, I no longer live in North East Somerset. And my only association with the community in North East Somerset is through a reluctant annual Christmas pilgrimage. Perhaps I am not in a good position to vote in their local elections, or choose their Member of Parliament in this upcoming election. Besides, North East Somerset currently has a Conservative MP (the infamous Jacob Rees-Mogg) whose policies I don’t agree with. I could probably surmise, therefore, that my common interests don’t align with the other people in that constituency. Indeed, a shared postcode does not a common worldview make.

However, represent uniformly is exactly what my MP must do according to the wishes of their constituents. Just because my MP who represents me belongs to one party, doesn’t mean I necessarily “opt-in” to all the beliefs and tenets of that party. So, in a way, it is with the LGBTQ community in Oxford. Agreed, they represent an entire rainbow of different groups with different personal interests, but you can opt-out: you can choose not to be politically-active, not to vote, or not to attend their events. Hell, you can even disagree with gay marriage if want to! No-one is forcing you to go along with a party doctrine, or share the opinions of others.

But why am I writing this? I think that any article which opens with an admission such as: “My only tenuous affiliation with the ‘LGBTQ community’ are occasional flirtations with ‘B’. To many, I probably only have the slenderest of rights to pass comment on this issue” can, and should only be continued with: “So that is why I took the time to go and have a cup of tea, and not write a comment article on something I have no experience of.”

But given that this is not the case this week in VERSA, and owing to the strong depth of feeling evinced by my contemporaries at college who also identify as LGBTQ, and moreover, having been elected to the lofty position of “LGBTQ representative”, I felt compelled to offer a response. Because, much like my MP, the right to articulate that one political voice has been delegated to me. And again, much like any political party, we as LGBTQ individuals have to be lumped into one “camp”.

I believe it is informative to consider why an LGBTQ society even exists in the first place. Until very recently in this country, to engage in homosexual acts was unlawful. In many places around the world, it remains illegal; people are systematically repressed by the state and society for whom they “share an erotic interest in” or for their gender identity. This is not a trivial matter. I ask the author, how many times has he come upon abuse for being bourgeois, white, cis, or male?

Yet, to varying degrees, this sort of targeted abuse is a reality for the LGBTQ community even in a supposedly enlightened city such as Oxford. That is the crux of the reason that minorities come together into a society with proper representation. Not to irk our white, cis, male overlords, but to make a stand and protect ourselves from repression. To argue that there is no repression of women (Google the gender pay gap), black or ethnic minorities, or LGBTQ minorities, is dangerous, condescending, and disturbingly naïve.

equalpay-final

Do you see a problem with this?

 

Finally, there does exist “tailored representation” to students who have a coherent set of (political) interests. If you want to join a political party or, for example, write for the Socialist Worker, you can. That is your prerogative. Just a short walk around freshers’ fair in October will show you the plethora of different political groups you can join if you’re so inclined. In fact, on the subject of working class interests, most companies do have “Working Class Representatives”. They’re called trades unions, and they represent (with some uniformity) working class interests to their members’ employers and the government.

Maybe one day we’ll all live in a gloriously effulgent utopia where we don’t need adequately to represent minorities, because there is no repression. We can do away with all student representation, trades unions, and political parties and consign the whole divisive lot to the dustbin of history. But until the day we have true equality, we need representation of minorities.

 

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