This year, Hatfield College JCR, has tried to combat apathy regarding LGBTQ+ concerns by creating a PRIDE week specifically designed to get Allies informed and involved in the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve created a new page, ‘Hatfield Circle of Pride’, which references Hatfield’s mascot, the lion, inferring that Hatfield’s LGBTQ+ community involves all Hatfielders. In addition to the page, myself (the Communities Officer) and my LGBTQ+ reps created events such as an artistic banner painting weekend to prepare for the PRIDE parade, Kall-A-Krispy, where Hatfielders who call or text a number get a doughnut delivered to their door with an LGBTQ+ themed crossword puzzle, a neon paint social, a chilled movie night with snacks and blankets, and a PRIDE formal to top off the week. Our events gained so much attention that we’ve even involved Bailey Colleges, Middle Coom Rooms (MCR), and the Durham LGBT+A in our events.
Within Hatfield and many of the other colleges, the LGBTQ+ community is strong, but it’s niche. How can we expect acceptance and change until those who identify as cis-gender and heterosexual see us as they see themselves? Young people are renowned for apathy and that won’t change until we give them something to care about. While sometimes the reason can be doughnuts or neon body paint, the interest that comes with these incentives is invaluable. With the other Bailey colleges, Hatfield has raised £160 for the Stonewall Organisation, the most popular LGBTQ+ charity in the UK.
I believe that the money donated is more than just money. I think it’s a sign of comradery and agreement in why PRIDE is important. The same people that have previously been ambivalent about issues beyond what is directly relevant to themselves have started to care about the LGBTQ+ community because of PRIDE week.
We’ve even started a social media campaign in PRIDE week that is continuing throughout the year where Hatfielders say what PRIDE means to them since learning more about the LGBTQ+ community. The answers have varied from LGBTQ+ members being able to express themselves freely in Hatfield to creating an atmosphere where both LGBTQ+ people and Allies can openly discuss their opinions and views. PRIDE week, however, is just the beginning for Hatfield.
One Hatfielder, while good meaning in spirit, asked one of my LGBTQ+ reps ‘Isn’t it great that your people don’t get stoned anymore?’. This line of questioning is exemplary of how we are progressing, but not quite there yet in terms of getting Allies interested in LGBTQ+ concerns. My LGBTQ+ reps and I hope to promote campaigns in Michaelmas term that particularly gets Hatfield sports club members interested in LGBTQ+ issues and reducing the stigma of LGBTQ+ members in the sporting community. While Hatfield has made a name for itself in Durham’s LGBTQ+ community, hopefully in my term as Communities Officer we can expand to Allies and reduce the niche nature of the LGBTQ+ community and open it to everyone because LGBTQ+ concerns matter. Not just to those who are directly affected, but also to those who care about their fellow humans and care about making their community diverse and cohesive.
by Meghan Hosch (Communities Officer, Hatfield College)