A new network has been launched for ANU alumni who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ).
The LGBTIQ Alumni Network was formed to allow alumni to come together in a community and network amongst other LGBTIQ alumni and students, staff, faculty, parents and straight allies.
At the launch, MC George Vallance said the network's activities could include activities such as fundraising and advocacy, as well as get-togethers.
"We're here to celebrate our queer alumni and that means our intergenerational alumni, which is incredible because this is such an inclusive event of the perspectives of the alumni that have shaped this university," George said.
"The direction of the network will be led by the alumni for the alumni."
Yen Eriksen, who is one of the founders of the network, graduated from ANU with a Bachelor of Arts in 2013, said for lots of students, the most significant experiences at university centre around identity and working out who they are.
"But for some you don't work it out until long after you've left ANU.
'Being part of an LGBITQ alumni network helps us celebrate and acknowledge that experience. It's also just a great way to catch up with old friends and memories and help make some new ones," Yen said.
At the launch, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who is the network's inaugural patron, said times have definitely changed since he was studying at ANU nearly three decades ago.
Mr Barr said he had a real sense of pride over the progress over just how much has changed within the ANU community when it comes to accepting LGBTIQ people.
"I came to ANU as an 18 year old in 1992, and I wasn't out," he said, telling the group that he had known since he was 15 that he was gay but chose to keep that known only to himself through his studies.
"I've reflected on that over the years and wondered why it was that I still felt, even at a university, that I couldn't come out," he said, acknowledging the journey to coming out is a personal one for each person.
"But I don't think the university was such a welcoming place as it is now, those two and half decades ago."
Progress had started in the 1990s, he said, but at the time there were still ads bearing the grim reaper and alleging all gay men were responsible for the spread of AIDS.
"To be at an event like this tonight is a real marker of progress and inclusion," Mr Barr said.
"I would hope that the 18 year-old student, who walks onto this campus in 2018, feels welcome, included and able to be who they are, to achieve their full potential as a student and to participate in this community and our city and our nation in a way that wasn't as clear 25 years ago."
Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said he was proud that ANU is one of the first universities in Australia to have formed a network for LGBTIQ alumni.
"Here at ANU, I believe we must show - not just in words but in actions - our support for a diverse and inclusive University," he said.
"Inclusivity and acceptance are core values and this network will play an important part in advocating those principles even after graduation."
Professor Schmidt said the LGBTIQ alumni network's key statement, you have the right to be proud of who you are, is something that ANU is proud to uphold and is one of the values lived throughout the University every day.
The network's very first event, spring after-work drinks, will be held at the Fellows Bar at University House from 6pm on Friday 2 November.
Original post published on ANU Newsroom 6/9/2018
Image credit Yen Eriksen.