Ask @OrielLGBTQ:

I just wanted to express how in doing a course relating to the Classics, I often feel uncomfortable in translation. In certain poems where vulgar slurs are used relating to gay sex, we are encouraged to use the equivalent modern day slurs to give an accurate translation. It feels so wrong.

Hi! Thanks so much for raising this :)
I can definitely sympathise and see why this might make you uncomfortable. This year one of our tutors set us an essay on Strauss’s opera 'Salome', which culminates in what’s essentially a super-misogynistic 20-minute strip tease. We hadn’t been given any warning about what we were going to be studying and it made me quite uncomfortable to listen to it!
If this kind of text is making you feel uncomfortable and you’re having to confront these texts on a regular basis, then the best thing I can advise is to talk to your tutor about it. Is there any way of avoiding this kind of text? If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your tutor, then perhaps you could think about going to see the deans. You can email them at deans@oriel.ox.ac.uk, or you can drop in during deans’ hours in the Macgregor room (8.15-8.45 on Mondays; 1.30-2.00 on Fridays).
I would say this: I don’t think that acknowledging the existence of gay slurs is intrinsically homophobic or offensive toward LGBTQ+ people in any way :) In fact, it’s very important in the fight against homophobia/queerphobia to acknowledge that horrific things have been said and done in the past and are still being said and done. When studying historical artefacts from the past, it’s important to remember that we’re seeing these things with our twenty-first century take on morality – things were viewed totally differently in the past. You're doing nothing wrong by saying or writing a word unless you use it offensively :)
Whatever the reason for you feeling uncomfortable, however, I really encourage you to raise it with either your tutor or a dean! It’s obviously not pleasant at all for you to be made to feel uncomfortable on a regular basis, and I’m sure the deans especially will be on your side and keen to find a solution :)
Hope it all goes well, and please feel free to get in touch again xx
Alex

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I find the LGBTQ spaces quite intimidating, is there anywhere I can go to express these feelings anonymously?

Well, first off, this page is a place where you can express those feelings anonymously, so congrats :)
Secondly, what is it about the LGBTQ spaces that you find intimidating?
- Is it that they tend to be alcohol-based? I realise that this is a problem, but this year the Society intends to hold more non-alcoholic events. I'll also be holding regular Oriel LGBTQ tea socials.
- Is it that you feel excluded by the tendency towards political activism, either because you feel others know more about those topics than you do, or because you are uninterested in such politics? If it is the former, I know that it can seem intimidating, but really most people are willing to explain issues that they care about if you ask, and they will not judge you for wanting to know more – I'm by no means the ultimate font of intersectional wisdom, but I can talk to you about a fair number of issues. One thing to be cautious about is that it is not the responsibility of members of oppressed groups to explain their oppression to others, as it can be exhausting to do so constantly. If it is the latter, this is why we have both the LGBTQ Society (not political) and the LGBTQ Campaign (political). I realise that activism is often present in both groups, but there are generally people of various a-/political schools of thought at Soc events, so hopefully you'll be able to find some like-minded individuals there.
Hope that helps! :)

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I'm not sure what my sexual identity is yet, is there a space for 'questioning' on the LGBTQ scene?

Yes, definitely. From my experience, the coming-out story of "one day I just knew I was gay" is a lot rarer than it first seems. Many queer and straight people have been through a questioning experience, sometimes lasting several years, so you're definitely not alone.
At LGBTQ events, it is extremely unlikely that anyone will ask you intimate details about who you're attracted to or why, so you don't need to have fully-formed answers to attend LGBTQ events. LGBTQ drinks or film nights might be a good place to start, or else, if you're nervous, you can email the LGBTQ rep, who is happy to talk through your thoughts and feelings with you either in person or online. There are also lots of informational talks through the year which could help you make decisions about yourself without putting any personal pressure on you to decide.
Many people are still coming to conclusions about themselves, and it may be that there just isn't a label which you feel properly describes you. And that's fine - labels are just there for our convenience, and so if none are convenient, you don't have to describe yourself as anything!

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Do you consider polyamory to be a LGBTQ identity?

For anyone reading this who is not sure what 'polyamory' is, it is defined here: http://addictions.about.com/od/LGBT/g/What-Is-Polyamorous.htm.
Different people have different opinions on whether being polyamorous can be classed as an LGBTQ identity, but I would probably say that it depends on the feelings of the polyamorous person. It is sometimes included under the LGBTQ banner because it is non-normative - i.e., it doesn't conform to society's expectations about how 'normal' relationships work. Many polyamorous people will feel marginalised or rejected by mainstream society, and so I consider it part of an LGBTQ representative's job to make them feel included and help them access supplies and information which are relevant to them.
However, some polyamorous people don't like to be classed as LGBTQ because they don't feel they receive enough negative treatment from society as a result of their relationship preferences to need special support. Equally, some people don't feel it is part of their 'identity' - more just a part of their current situation and circumstances. If you're polyamorous and you don't feel it is part of an LGBTQ identity for you, that's perfectly fine - but I'm here if you need me for support, or if you want me to put on informational events.

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Can we bring QueerDiscOx back (if it disappeared? it seems to have disappeared)? So much love for the enduring twitter account, however. https://twitter.com/QueerDiscOx

I will personally hunt down the makers of Queer DiscOx, lock them in the Oxide Radio studio and demand that they produce their Monday night radio show.
...Though, in all seriousness, I can't do that, but I can link you to their Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/158756177665428/) and refer you there to ask the same question.

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I've heard the acronym LGBTQIA+ being used on an event- what's the difference between this and LGBTQ?

LGBTQIA+ is a more exhaustive label for the identities covered by the label LGBTQ - roughly, it covers all gender and sexual identities seen as non-normative by wider society. The 'I' means 'intersex' (having some reproductive features of male and female bodies as we understand them), the 'A' means 'asexual' (not having an interest in or desire for sexual relationships) and the 'plus' denotes other, smaller self-identification categories that wish to fight for their rights under the LGBTQIA banner.
Because 'Q' can be seen as an umbrella term to bring together non-normative sexual and gender identities, I use 'Q' almost interchangeably with '+' - asexual, intersex and other non-normative identities are *absolutely* included within my remit if people want to talk to me about them. I subsume other identities into the 'Q' because LGBTQIA+ is an unwieldy term, but if anyone has a problem with this or feels they are not being represented, send me a message and I will start to use the fuller acronym.

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What does LGBTQ stand for?

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer (though sometimes the Q is used to mean 'questioning'). These are different sexualities and gender identities which people use to describe themselves. 'Trans' is starred because it contains a range of identities (such as 'transgender' and 'transsexual') which you can find more information about here: http://www.revelandriot.com/resources/lgbtq-and-trans-definitions/. 'Queer' is both an umbrella term encompassing L, G, B, T and several other identities, and a label used by some people to avoid the use of a single, more specific descriptor. There is more information here on 'queer' as a label: http://community.pflag.org/abouttheq

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