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20· Comment

Queer Column

ArtMitchells-Urwin believes

it’s only responsible to come out and visibly so

Since coming out at the age of 13, my life has dutifully left a trail of rainbow carnage, getting glitter in my adversary’s and friend’s eyes alike and leaving no one in doubt that they had just encountered an authentic friend-of-Dorothy.

I subsequently realised that this

was a purposeful (and almost politi- cal) act, designed to informand con- front people with the existence of an alternative sexuality. Something which became greatly toned down uponmoving to London. As I saw it, the likes of me could never shock nor needed to confront such hard- ened Londoners! Recently, whilst having dinner

with a close-friend, the conversation drifted to why, despite their African- based LGBT-activism, they had not come out to their parents. Since they came from a different

country, they explained, they had only felt comfortable being ‘differ- ent’ or at least themselves in Lon- don. For my friend, the act of coming out at home was more of a political declaration than a personal one. At the end of the dinner, the ques-

tion remained hanging; is it easier to be a proud LGBTer in another city/country arguing for the rights of those in other continents, than to be fully open closer to home? At an exhibition on world-wide

LGBT activism (co-produced by myself andl SOAS LGBT Society), I began to wonder what responsibility we had to ‘gay it forward’, be men- tors to our protégés. HarveyMilk certainly thought so,

urging his supporters to throw open their closet doors in order to combat homophobias and encourage th clos- eted homosexuals of the world. An- other friend followed such advice last year, bravely stepping into the limelight at an academic panel when they openly admitted to an assem- bled and somewhat hostile audience at SOAS that they were indeed, a ho- mosexualMuslim. Bravery or simply a logical step in

being honest with oneself and those surrounding them? Is it our respon- sibility to come out and be visible? Matthew Shepard died as a result of his visibility and devastatingly, so have countless others. Yet still we stumble out of our

various closets. I think we do have a responsibility to be beacons for those who are to follow. After all, we walk a much clearer route thanks to the countless people who have slowly ebbed away at the thorny path of being openly gay before us…should- n’t we do the same?

According to Noam Chomsky “the most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision- making from the public arena to an unaccountable institution”. Clearly the SU have been applying Chom- sky’s idea but they seemto have got the gist of what he was saying a lit- tle confused. Restricting democracy isn’t supposed to be a good thing.

Just over two weeks ago a referen-

dumwas held, proposing a number of SU reforms. One of the reforms pro- posed onlymanaged to get threemore votes in its favour than were cast against it. The night before polling

SU officials ignored

trivialities such as democracy

started, the numbering of this reform had been switched, seriously disad- vantaging those campaigning against it and confusing several people into accidentally voting for it. Setting this pertinent problem aside, even with the votes gained by the switch, the re- form did not constitutionally pass. Every other amendment to the

constitution has needed a two-thirds majority to pass; indeed the Consti- tution itself specifies that an amend-

www.london-student.net ·1stMarch 2010

LondonStudent

The death of democracy?

Mira Hammad laments what she sees as recent anti-democratic antics at LSE SU

book group with over 320 members requesting ‘the return of the LSESU democracy’ has sprung up.Within 24

Photo: HILARY AKED

tutional agenda upon students, they are also attempting to shut down any debate. I have been active in the SU since

I came to the LSE in 2008, and indeed I campaigned for some of the officials who are in part responsible for the ac- tions outlined above. I did not at any point envisage being this disillu- sioned and disgusted with the actions of those who claim to represent me. The Sabbatical Officers made a

poor decision when they took it upon themselves and the Executive to cam- paign for all students to vote “Yes” to all of the reforms, in spite of them- selves not agreeing upon all of them. This is because if, as has happened

ment requires a two-thirds majority at the UGM.Moreover, the Constitu- tion and Steering Committee in their only valid vote on the issue of whether a simplemajority or a super- majority was needed, voted unani- mously in favour of using a two-thirds majority. However, SU of- ficials have decided to ignore triviali- ties such as democracy and the constitution and instead have decided to arbitrarily declare the reform as having passed. This is why, barely a week since the SU took up their stance, a Face-

Brown-bashing?

InNovember, an episode ofHave IGotNews ForYou openedwith the immortal line “This has been another bad week for Gordon

hours of the close of voting 30 com- plaints had been made regarding the validity of the Referendum results. The SU, however, were quick to dis- miss the concerns of their students. On Thursday, two students were pre- vented fromeven proposing amotion that would allow students to vote upon the validity of the reform. The response of our Sabbatical officers to real student concerns is simply to as- sert that students have “misunder- stood” the situation and that it is “time to move on.” The SU are now not simply imposing their unconsti-

now, students take issue with a reform that they believe has been unconsti- tutionally passed, they perceive no neutral point of call which they can appeal to enforce the constitution. Quite the opposite, the situation

that has confronted us now is a situa- tion where Sabbaticals, instead of neutrally upholding the constitution, pressuremembers of the Constitution and Steering Committee to vote in a way which conforms to their agenda. The SU may wish to undermine

democracy by ignoring the concerns of students and removing their deci- sionmaking power; but they are very much mistaken if they assume that students will not take it upon them- selves to hold them to account.

John Underwood on why a kick-ass Prime

Minister GBmight, after all, be preferable

Brown,which is as close as this showcomes tohaving a catchphrase.” Indeed, it seems to have been an awfully long time since the pa- pers held anything but suggestions that our beleagueredPrimeMinister isonhis last legs – if he’s not popping pills or claiming that they’re all out to get him, he’s accused of screaming “This is fucking Trotskyism!” down the phone at an intransigent Tony Blair.You genuinely couldn’twrite it.

And this week, the infantilisation of his

bawling and tear-blotched public face was nicely roundedoffwithsome juicy bullying al- legations. Imean, lawks.Who cries ‘bully’ past the age of about twelve? If there’s one thing I remember frommy happy years at school, it’s that you don’t complain of bullying, or bullies, lest you anger themfurther and spend yet an- other lunchtimebeing forcedunder adeskand kickedwhilst thenastybits of everyone’s sand- wiches are meticulously massaged into your blazer.Or something. If poorMr Brown has been snapping at his

staff, I don’t thinkwe can blame him– he has, after all, been systematically fingered for the collapse of everything since the New Deal, whilst alsohaving tocopewithSW1 council tax and not even getting to have something cool

like aneyepatch. I think if Iwas inhis position I’d be taking every opportunity to flexmy ego a bit, even at the expense of some secretary’s self-esteem or the integrity of an innocent greenhouse. (I readthat several got smashedup south of the river lastweek, and I knowwhere I’m looking). To be honest, I think a rough’n’toughGBis amore attractive proposi- tion than the slightly deflated chap who can barely keep his head up straight in PMQs and lacks the backbone to have PiersMorgan exe- cuted. Why can’t we have a bullying Prime Minister? It’d be brilliant. Disagreements in Brussels? Brown flushes Van Rompuy’s head. CorruptionintheMet?BigpapaGordonnicks Ali Dizaei’s pencil case and puts it in a tree. He’d be like a superhero! But ifwe’re going tohave anoholdsbarred,

bite youwhile SirGusO’Donnell isn’t looking beast of a Prime Minister, he’ll need to start somewhere to hone his skills. I’ve got an idea for that,GB – instead of scribbling on Alistair Darling’s funny eyebrowswithbiro orkneeing your typist in the face,why not go after Chris- tine ‘abuse of confidence’ Pratt? There’s a woman who needs to be shown that you don’t tellonthebully, orhemight come after youand set fire to your shit 80s power jacket.

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