Thursday 20-10-2016 - 14:51
NUS Wales has two part-time LGBT+ officers, elected at the NUS Wales LGBT+ conference each year. Say hello to your 2016-17 officers Jasper Williams and Hannah Stewart.
Hello! My name is Jasper Williams and I am your NUS Wales LGBT+ Officer - Open Place, 2016-17. I'm incredibly honoured to be leading this campaign alongside Hannah; having already been to represent the campaign at Llanelli Pride Day and at Pride Cymru, I am full of excitement for this year and cannot wait to do more.
Before I even got my offer at Bangor, the first thing I did was look for the LGBT+ society and any other activist groups to join. University was a fresh start for me, because living in a conservative town in the South of Oxfordshire made growing up as a trans, queer, asexual and disabled guy very hard - I had terrible experiences at school and in my hometown, so moving away to North Wales was a time to go to somewhere completely different where I could be myself. Campaigning and activism were far from my mind when I joined the LGBT+ group - I just wanted to be told that it was okay to be who I was, to be accepted, but within minutes I was told about NUS and then the ball just kept rolling from there.
I’m in my third year at Bangor University studying for a BSc psychology with neuropsychology degree, currently the chair of Bangor’s Feminist Society, trans officer at Bangor University and I am sure that by now my ear pricks up by just the word activism - since starting my degree, I have jointly created a national asexual consent workshop with former NUS national women’s officer Susuana Amoah, organised a UK-wide Speak Out event against hate and prejudice, started a feminist society in the second month of arriving at university that has won multiple awards, arranged a rally for the Ireland same-sex marriage referendum with Bangor and Aberystwyth’s LGBT+ societies, organised a vigil for Leelah Alcorn, and helped to collaboratively get a full-time trans officer at NUS UK National Conference in April.
I’m Hannah Stewart and I am the NUS Wales LGBT+ Officer-Women’s Place for this year. As Jasper said, we’re super honoured and excited to be leading the campaign, and we wanted to let you know a bit about ourselves and also what we have planned for the year.
Much like Jasper, one of the first things I looked for when I came to University was an LGBT+ Society. I soon found a great one here at Swansea and although it took me a while to pluck up my courage, I eventually joined the society and I’ve regularly attending ever since. I grew up in Belfast, in Northern Ireland. While the country can be fairly backwards on many issues, especially LGBT ones, I was lucky to be surrounded my open-minded people who were accepting of my sexuality but it wasn’t until I came to Swansea that I really found the LGBT community.
I’m in my second year at Swansea University and I study Politics and American Studies. I am the current secretary of our LGBT+ Society and last year I was the LGBT+ Officer-Women’s Place at Swansea University. I was also the Bi* on the NUS UK LGBT+ Committee. I have worked on several NUS campaigns, as well as attending many conferences. I have also ran several campaigns at Swansea, including a month long event for LGBT+ History month where we raised money for the Unity Centre in Swansea.
Jasper and I both stood for our positions because with everything that has recently happened and has affected the LGBT+ community, comrades, we need to take action. We need to act now. Now more than ever, we need to value the people who run our movement, and look to the future. Not just for the next year, or the next 5 years, but the following 100 years. To change the lives of the next generation. To create a ripple effect of change.
This year, working with the LGBT+ committee, our priorities are to:
- Campaign the Welsh Government to implement a Gender Identity Clinic in Wales
- Work to increase and focus on BAME and FE representation and inclusion Focus on ensuring the mandatory rights for all LGBT+ students, regardless of asylum and/or estranged status
- Work with the other liberation, as well as national, officers on shared issues, like hate crime, mental health, and inclusive education Campaign to improve trans and asexual awareness
LGBT+ equality in Wales has come a long way in such a short period of time but the battle is far from over. In light of recent events, such as the attacks in Orlando, the world can seem like a scary place. It is a painful and too real reminder that our community still faces hate and discrimination, and it is times like this that we need to stick with each other even stronger than before. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, join our Facebook group, and get involved with the NUS Wales LGBT+ campaign!
Jasper Williams and Hannah Stewart