Max, The Queer Collective’s 2019 Queer Convenor, chats to us about his Marvel marathons, queer spaces at UON, Pride Week, and the controversial Hawaiian pizza debate.
Sophie: What is your name and your preferred pronouns?
Max: My name is Max, I use he/him pronouns and I’m a non-binary trans person.
S: Can you tell me a little bit about the Queer Collective and your role as a Queer Convenor?
M: The Queer Collective is a group for LGBTQIA+ students on campus. I’m the Queer Convenor so I chair the collective meetings and am the main spokesperson. I do a lot of the more ‘admin’ work, so I’m booking rooms, chairing Pride Week working group meetings, but a lot of the stuff we do is a very collaborative effort.
S: What’s the Queer Collective’s main ‘mission’ here on campus?
M: We do run a lot of events, which is probably our main support function. We do a lot of activism, working with the university in relevant areas, and overall just providing a safe space for queer and questioning students.
S: Sounds like it’s been pretty hectic for you guys leading up to Pride Week huh?
M: Yeah it has a bit! It’s exciting though.
S: So a little bit more about you. Are you studying?
M: I’m currently doing my Honours in Psychology, so I’m in my fourth year and I’m looking at the effects of social media on mental health.
S: What about in your downtime? What do you do to relieve the stress of uni?
M: Engaging in different social groups here on campus has really helped. To come and find different social groups such as The Queer Collective and meeting like-minded people… it’s just a nice side to university.
Having a safe place is so important. It’s just a space where students can go if they feel overwhelmed, or just to socialise with people who have that connection to their identity.
S: Any pop culture obsessions?
M: Well, at the moment my friend is making me watch all the Marvel movies because up until three weeks ago I hadn’t seen any. We’re certainly in it for the long haul.
S: How important is it to you and the students that there is a queer space available?
M: Having a safe place is so important. It’s just a space where students can go if they feel overwhelmed, or just to socialise with people who have that connection to their identity. Especially because we’re a regional university, you know, we get a lot of people coming from even more rural towns who haven’t had the chance to explore their queer identity, and having a space for them to express that is pretty cool.
S: What are some changes to LGBTQIA+ visibility and awareness have you seen come to UON over the years? What is the significance to you?
M: Gender neutral bathrooms have been a huge win for the Queer Collective, particularly for trans and gender diverse students. It’s something we as a collective had been fighting for two years to get so it’s fantastic to see them finally come through.
Also The ALLY Network, just seeing those little ALLY stickers pop up on lecturer’s emails and things, there’s just more of a presence for that kind of stuff, little general hints that a person is inclusive. It’s really nice to know that if a student needs someone, then they will know that person is an ALLY.
S: What is your favourite part about Pride Week?
M: My favourite event is no doubt going to be Carnival Day which is happening on Tuesday 27th of August at Park on the Hill. There will be lots of stalls, dogs to pet, free food, a free inflatable obstacle course, live music and more. We’ll definitely have some pins up for grabs too.
S: How can students find the Queer Collective?
M: The queer space is open to any queer or questioning students whenever the NUSA building is open, so that’s basically nine to five, on weekdays. But if you want to be more involved with the Collective, you can shoot us a message on our Facebook page and we have a private group, which is privated, that we can add you into.
S: Finally, pineapple on pizza, yay or nay?
M: Definitely a controversial one… I’d say yay but it’s not my go-to pizza. Pepperoni all the way.
The University of Newcastle’s Pride Week will take place from the 26th to the 30th of August. Head to the NUSA Queer Collective Facebook to plan your celebrations and make sure you don’t miss a single event.
Feature image and insert images via NUSA Queer Collective Facebook Page