Last friday night marked the inaugural Queer Gala hosted by the Swinburne Queer Collective. Over fifty people of Swinburne’s best and brightest headed to ADMC to eat, drink and be merry.
We were entertained by Rex Spandex and danced the night away to the obvious classics: ABBA, Queen the Grease Megamix, Taylor Swift, the Macarena, Time Warp, Michael Jackson and many other fabulous tunes.
In a comment to 3SSR Media, Swinburne Student Union’s Queer Officer Joshua Briers mentioned:
“I think it was a real testament to our unity, strength, and love of the Swinburne Queer Community. Everyone seemed to love the night and I couldn’t of asked for it to be better. I think I should reiterate what I said in my speech; the queer department [is] back!!”
Josh’s comments come after a period of hiatus with the Swinburne Queer Collective over the past 12 months after some internal conflict resulted in the removal of the then Collective President, Lee Taube by the Student Union and the subsequent decline of member engagement.
Creating a space where people could come party, celebrate and be themselves was the aim of the gala and the Queer Department pulled that off spectacularly. The event was inclusive, thoughtful and fun.
Many past and present members of Swinburne’s Queer Community were present, including some Swinburne staff members along with some influential people within the broader Queer Community, including Greens Senator, Janet Rice and her partner, Penny Whetton.
The Queer Collective has had a successful history at Swinburne of activism and inclusion. Notably, former SSU Queer Representative, Lee Taube, campaigned the University over a number of years to install Gender Neutral bathrooms around campus, resulting in the conversion of three previously gendered restrooms to gender neutral facilities within the AD and UN buildings. Lee’s dedication to representing the trans and gender diverse community, combined with their hard-fought activism ensured Swinburne was the first University in Victoria to provide non-gendered toilets around campus.
In addition to this, the Queer Collective at Swinburne (led by various Queer Representatives) has successfully sought financial sponsorship from Swinburne University and the Swinburne Student Union to attend the annual Queer Collaborations conference — a week-long gathering of queer and gender diverse groups (predominantly from Higher Education institutions) each year. The conference provides valuable opportunities for intra-university networking, collaboration, learning and campaign planning.
The Queer Collective, along with the SSU Women’s Collective, have maintained a safe-space on Level 2 of the AD Building at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus for many years now, offering a relaxing, friendly atmosphere for queer students and allies.
3SSR’s President and Treasurer attended the gala, and obviously took selfies.
The Queer Gala comes a few weeks after Swinburne’s third annual Pride Day celebrations, which highlighted the diversity of the Swinburne Community through a day of guest speeches and a beautiful Pride March throughout campus.
Overall, the night was a huge success and we look forward to things only getting better and better for the Queer Collective on campus.